A light snow fell on a small crowd gathered on the Chena River in Fairbanks as Allen Moore’s eleven-dog team pulled the musher across the Yukon Quest finish line early this morning. The win is fitting after a narrow miss last year.
Moore stepped off his runners, checked in his mandatory gear and greeted his wife, 2000 Yukon Quest champion, Aliy Zirkle.
“Zirkle: How you doin’ baby? Moore: Fantastic! Ready to do it again.”
After losing by 26 seconds to Hugh Neff last year, the Two-Rivers musher built himself an ultralight sled. The bag is made from material used for sails on competitive sail boats. He also trained his dogs repeatedly on the run between the last checkpoint and the finish line.
“You know it was a pretty good motivator. You can stay motivated after losing by 26 seconds. That’s the good thing about it,” Moore said.
Moore and Hugh Neff chased each other for nearly the entire race this year. Moore finally dropped his competition at Mile 101 and the two didn’t see each other again until they took a mandatory eight hour layover at Two Rivers, the last checkpoint on the trail.
Roughly an hour after Moore finished, Hugh Neff drove nine dogs across the line. It’s his 13th Quest finish. In the team was Walter, a nine-year old sled dog who has finished six Yukon Quests and three Iditarods.
Yeah, this is Walter’s last race, he’s getting up there. He’s a couch potato. He’s with me every day,” Moore said.
Neff will keep four ounces of gold he won after pulling in first at Dawson City, the race’s halfway point,. It’s valued at nearly $7,000. That’s in addition to a second place prize of more than $13,000. Allen Moore will take home a little more than $18,000.
Moore finished in 8 days, 18 hours and 57 minutes. It’s a new fast time, but with a reroute that cost the race a climb over American Summit and slashed 50 miles from the total distance, it will be recorded in the history books with an asterisk.
There are still eighteen teams racing on the Yukon Quest trail. They’re spread out over 400 miles of trail.
Moore says it’s likely he will be back for another Quest next year.
“Well it’s been three in a row, so it’s probably a pretty good chance,” he said.
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