Winners Never Rest

The 2011 Yukon Quest has barely ended and already Dave has his eyes set for next year. The training schedule never really stops though there are changes. Soon it will be time for weight training, then water training in summer. The serious work begins in October when the snow flies and possible fundraisers loom at Ivory Jacks.

Fans of the Dalton Gang can get involved and support them by purchasing t-shirts, hats, and hoodies through this very website. In August, sign-up for the 2012 Quest also signals the beginning of the Starter Program Online Auction. This is a program that has enjoyed great success in it’s inaugural year and Quest officials, and mushers, have high hopes for next year. It’s something to keep in mind. Here’s what last year’s winners received:

1. One ticket to the Start Banquet to join your musher’s table.
2. A Special-Access Pass to the pre-race staging area to watch (or help) your musher prepare.
3. Ride to the start line with your musher (Either on the runners or a volunteer snowmachine.)
4. An autographed poster signed by your musher.
5. A picture of you and your musher holding the sled at the Start Line.
6. Your name read by the announcer at the Official Race Start.

Our thanks go out to Marcia, the winning bidder for Dave this year and the winning fan in our hearts!!!

The Finish Line And After

Finishing in Fairbanks

The Dalton Gang made their entrance into Fairbanks on Thursday, 2/17, with a certified time of 12d 10h 7m. It came not a moment too soon. For over the last 100 miles, Dave was not just battling Mike Ellis for positioning, but a nasty virus as well.

“It’s a good thing I caught it at the end of the race or I wouldn’t have survived this race,” croaked a feverish Dalton. Calling it one of the toughest races he ever experienced, Dave later recounted before an enthralled crowd at the Finish Banquet just how dangerous the race had become once the mushers left Dawson, “I’m going ‘geez, how are we going to get out there to forty-mile.” But make it out there he did, along with Jodi Bailey and Mike Ellis. The story of their cooperation is one that’s retold in almost all the stories of the mushers. It’s what makes this race unique.

Below is an audio file of the Finish Banquet held Friday night Feb. 18, at the Westmark Hotel. Dave is introduced at 30:26. Enjoy…

The final 2011 Race Results

Position/ Musher/ Total Elapsed Time
1 Dallas Seavey 10d 11h 53m
2 Sebastian Schnuelle 10d 12h 26m
3 Ken Anderson 10d 14h 24m
4 Brent Sass 10d 19h 2m
5 Kelley Griffin 11d 3h 2m
6 Allen Moore 11d 7h 32m
7 Jodi Bailey 12d 6h 51m
8 Mike Ellis 12d 9h 59m
9 David Dalton 12d 10h 7m
10 Tamara Rose 13d 0h 58m
11 Kyla Durham 13d 1h 53m
12 Jerry Joinson 13d 3h 22m
13 Hank DeBruin 13d 10h 54m

Headed Home – 2/17

They're on their way...

It’s now the last leg of the journey. The Dalton Gang left right on schedule and are headed home at a good pace. They should hit the finish line anytime after 9:00pm.

Out of the Two River’s Checkpoint, Dave was the only musher to still have twelve dogs (Jodi Bailey had to drop one.) It looks like Dave and Mike Ellis are battling it out for eighth place, but all three are champions. Indeed, to endure this test of will power and determination takes great intestinal fortitude – guts – and all of the finishers have it in spades. Hail the returning heroes!

Mushing Through The Night

Night Rider

The Dalton Gang is moving into the final stretch. At a brisk 11 mph, they cruised from Checkpoint 101 to Two Rivers. Now, they stand at the edge of a top ten finish. Now, they run to their goal, the end of the Quest. Running through the night, they checked in at 3:25am with an impressive run time of just over 7 hours. These fantastic athletes these fourteen, now twelve…Nicole – the leader,Zeke, Healy and Denali, Sleepy and Doc, Al, Sam, Tom and Sheldon, Sandy and Panda, deserve our applause for the grit, determination and the muscle they demonstrated. Dave was along for the ride.

Headed for home.

With each mile that passes, Dave gets that much closer to Frank Turner’s record of 25 Quest runs. He has made his passion his lifestyle and defines what mushing is all about. Dave, along with Jodi Bailey, are the only mushers left with twelve dogs. They take care of their animals.

At 11:25am, They begin the final assault after the mandatory 8 hour layover. And then, even the dogs can sense it…

Central – 2/15

Congratulations to Dallas Seavey, 2011 Yukon Quest Champione and Rookie of the Year!

Leaving Circle at -40°F

Dave is currently resting in Central after arriving last night at 11pm. He came in slightly behind Jodi Bailey and slightly ahead of Mike Ellis. Again, Dave is in fine spirits and claimed to have no trouble with the overflow that has played havoc with other mushers from the previous day. Estimated time of departure is 6am. Getting closer to the end.

Battling For The Title

Yesterday, Valentine’s Day, turned out to be the most exciting of the 2011 race, if not all-time. Favorites scratched and new leaders emerged. It was first and foremost a day of attrition.

Early in the day, last year’s champ, Hans Gatt was forced to scratch after developing second-degree frostbite, making it impossible for him to care for his dogs. After battling back from near-hypothermia on American Summit, dealing with high winds and deadly overflow, nature exacted it’s toll. Later in the evening race leader, Hugh Neff, the musher who had led at every checkpoint, met his match on Eagle Summit. Breaking hundreds of miles of trail proved to be too much as Neff, and Dan Kaduce, another front runner were forced to withdraw. Coming into the Two Rivers Checkpoint, Ken Anderson, the new leader, was assessed a time penalty for not checking out properly at the previous checkpoint. As it stands, 13 mushers have scratched since the beginning of the race leaving 14 determined souls left to battle it out. With 87 miles remaining, Dallas Seavey, son of racing legend and former Iditarod champ, Mitch Seavey, is now the new leader and odds on favorite to win.

Dave and the gang, hanging back in the eighth position, continue to show their grit and mettle. Arriving in Circle at 9:30pm, Dave was in great shape and fine spirits. The dogs, too, looked healthy and ready to go for more. Since dropping two dogs in Carmacks, the remaining twelve have hung tough and now must gut it out over the most demanding portion of the race.

Dave has decided to wait until daylight before tackling Eagle Summit. He knows the hazards he will face and as a grizzled veteran, how to handle them. It may be slow going, but if he finishes, it will be in the money. Our prayers are with him.

On To The Hard Part…2/11

The Dalton Gang pulled out of town at 3:10am this morning, ready to go despite a driving snowstorm. It had started snowing hours before his departure, covering all equipment under at least 2″ of the fluffy, white stuff, but Dave didn’t want to fall too far behind the front runners. Starting minutes behind musher Mike Ellis and picking up another musher who had turned around, the three started off as a unit, cooperating in order to make it through the blizzard and over Eagle Summit.

Axel and JC share a laugh.

Luckily, Dave was well rested, having spent the previous 36 hours relaxing and plotting strategy. His handlers were not so fortunate. Dawson City is the one place along the Quest trail where mushers can receive help from non-racers and so, this is the moment when the handlers earn their keep. It almost makes you wonder how the lone musher on the trail gets it done.

Ultimately, it is a race of attrition. Every year, fully one-third of the mushers who start off on the Quest end up scratching. So far, out of an initial fieldof twenty-five, five mushers have scratched. Expect a couple more after this leg, the most difficult and trying of the course…and that’s without blinding snowstorms!