Kleedehn keeps lead, Dalton scratches Quest

Posted: Sunday, February 22, 2009

FAIRBANKS - Musher William Kleedehn of Carcross, Yukon, kept his lead Friday in the 1,000-mile Yukon Quest International Sled Dog Race.

Kleedehn arrived at the Eagle checkpoint about an hour and a half ahead of Hugh Neff of Skagway. Jon Little of Kasilof arrived about two hours after Neff.

Kleedehn rested his team more than four hours before getting back on the trail.

David Dalton scratched. Race officials said Dalton, from Healy, scratched Thursday night in Dawson City because his dogs were ill and unable to continue.

The race this year started in Whitehorse, Yukon, and will end in Fairbanks. Teams completed a 36-hour layover in Dawson City before heading to Eagle, the next checkpoint in Alaska.

Teams most often break the 150-mile run into three runs of equal length with stops in the abandoned gold rush town of Forty Mile and a second camp-out at the Fortymile River Bridge, where the Taylor Highway crosses the Fortymile River. From that point the Quest trail follows the highway across American Summit into Eagle.

Twenty-four teams remain in the race. Five teams have scratched, including three-time winner Hans Gatt of Whitehorse, who said he needs to focus on the upcoming Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race.

Quest defending champion Lance Mackey of Fairbanks is not entered this year because he is training another musher to run in the Iditarod. For two years in a row, Mackey has won both the Quest and the Iditarod.

His brother, rookie Jason Mackey of Kasilof, was in 20th position in the Quest on Friday.

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