This weekend’s Copper Basin 300 sled dog race saw the first musher cross the finish line before 10 a.m. Monday. Good weather and a fast trail contributed to an early finish for this year’s race.
Musher Matt Hall and his team crossed the finish line at Old Path Baptist Church in Glennallen at 9:43 a.m. Monday morning.
Third-place finisher Allen Moore crossed the finish line at 10:24 a.m., followed by fourth-place finisher Aliy Zirkle who a crossed the line at 10:28 Monday morning.
Second-place finisher Ryne Olsen says trail conditions helped racers speed along.
Rain around the holidays caused very icy trail conditions. For safety reasons, the race board chose to move this year’s start 20 miles north of Glennallen to the Gakona Lodge, about a mile off the Richardson Highway on the Tok cut-off.
Copper Basin 300 race manager Eric Lutz gives kudos to the weather for a great race.
“You know, as much bad luck as we’ve had with the weather — we’ve also had good luck with the weather this race. It’s been just cold enough and just warm enough at the same time.”
Mushers have a required layover at Mendeltna Lodge on the Glenn Highway, the last check point before the finish line. Lutz was there Sunday night and says they didn’t really stop to chill:
“There’s no slacking around. When they’re checking out, their hand is barely touching the door as long as they can see. As soon as you give them the go, they’re literally running and disappearing as fast as they can.”
The Copper Basin 300 is an all volunteer-manned race. Board president Meg Jensen says this year’s race has been a smooth production from start to finish:
“Mushers have been really positive about the trail and the checkpoints and set-up and how it’s all worked this year.”
Mushers and their teams will continue to trickle in through Tuesday. Jensen says with the extra speed there’s a good chance they will all cross the finish line before Tuesday night’s awards banquet.