Yukon Quest's top Canadian musher 'ready to go again'

Ed Hopkins figured it would be 'pretty darn good' to finish in the top five of the 2016 Yukon Quest sled dog race. 'I achieved that, so it was a good run.'

'It was a good run,' says Yukon musher Ed Hopkins, who finished 5th in sled dog race

Ed Hopkins speaks to reporters at a checkpoint along the trail. Hopkins held the fifth spot through most of the race, and finished fifth on Tuesday. (Yukon Quest/ Julien Schroder)

The top Canadian musher in the 2016 Yukon Quest International Sled Dog Race said he's feeling good, rested, and 'ready to go again,' a little more than a day after finishing the grueling 1,600 kilometre race.

"I figured if I could get into the top five, with who was here this year, would be pretty darn good," said Ed Hopkins, of Tagish, Yukon. 

"I achieved that, so it was a good run."

Hopkins finished fifth, crossing the finish line outside Whitehorse early Tuesday morning. It was his eighth Yukon Quest and his second-best standing. He placed third in 2015.

Hopkins takes off from the starting line in Fairbanks, Alaska on Feb. 6. This was his eighth Yukon Quest. (Julien Schroder/Yukon Quest)

Hopkins said he had some minor setbacks this year, such as when he awoke on his sled to discover his dogs had taken a wrong turn toward a remote lodge. He also lost a chunk of time when he repeatedly spilled a pot of water that had been laboriously made by melting snow.

"A real comedy of errors," he said.

Rough trail and running dogs  

Hopkins said the trail was decent this year, though there were some rough patches of jumble ice.

"I don't know how the heck my sled stayed together," he said.

"I just thought it was ready to blow apart at any minute. Because you can't really control your speed — it's like a ship in the ocean, beating against the waves."

The sled may have taken a beating, but Hopkins said his dogs are in fine shape.

Hopkins' partner Michelle Phillips provided support along the way. She's now preparing to run the same dogs in Alaska's Iditarod next month. (Julien Schroder/Yukon Quest)

"They're great, they're beautiful. They're barking and screaming this morning, so we're going to be taking them out for a run tomorrow. Keep them moving."

The dogs have just a little more than two weeks to prepare for their next race — Alaska's Iditarod, which begins March 5. Hopkins' partner, Michelle Phillips, also a veteran musher, is running that race.

Hopkins will be her handler, travelling from checkpoint to checkpoint to provide support and help care for the dogs.  

"I'm kind of looking forward to it," he said. "I get to sit back, drink coffee, watch the [race] tracker."


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