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Photo by Vince Fedoroff

ODYSSEY OVER – Allen Moore poses with his lead dogs this morning at the Shipyards Park finish line of the Yukon Quest.

Moore wins third Quest with all 14 dogs

Alaskan musher Allen Moore has won his third Yukon Quest, arriving in Whitehorse at 7:59 this morning with all 14 dogs at the Shipyards Park finish line.

By Dustin Cook on February 13, 2018

Alaskan musher Allen Moore has won his third Yukon Quest, arriving in Whitehorse at 7:59 this morning with all 14 dogs at the Shipyards Park finish line.

The 60-year-old veteran musher from Two Rivers, Alaska also won the race in 2013 and 2014 – the two quickest finishing times in Quest history.

After a three-year hiatus at the top of the podium, Moore returned to victory in a finish time of nine days, 19 hours and 59 minutes in his eighth straight Quest finish.

Moore takes home $23,049.33 and his two ounces of gold for arriving first in Dawson City.

Moore was led into the snowy finish line by Dutch and Commando, who Moore said led for about 90 per cent of the race.

They were joined by the other 12 members of the team on the final stretch of the Yukon River – a major achievement that Moore is very pleased with.

“Not many people have arrived at the finish chute in any position with 14 dogs, and if I knew the answer how to do that every time, I would be doing it,” he said during the media scrum surrounded by fans after arriving at the finish.

Looking at the past three Quests, no mushers finished the 1,000-mile international race with all his or her dogs.

With his large lead of five hours leaving Braeburn, Moore said the final run was more relaxing but also had its challenges with warmer conditions, snow, and a new trail into the finish running along Lake Laberge.

“It was punchy. That probably slowed us down a lot here this last run. Got two to three inches of snow out there, and it just made it a little bit slower, but we chugged right along,” he said.

Moore, who started the race in Fairbanks as the 23rd musher out, led from Mile 101 just over 100 miles into the race and never looked back.

This was the third race for the four-year-old leaders Dutch and Commando, which Moore said was a big advantage to have them up front as they sensed when they were getting close to the checkpoints.

Upon reaching the finish line, members of the dog team were greeted by their handlers out of SP Kennel and a bucket of steaks waiting for them.

The team of dogs will not get much of a break, moving toward their next 1,000-mile race with Moore’s wife, Aliy Zirkle, in Alaska’s Iditarod.

“She will get this team that I just took in this race. I just got them in shape for her a little bit,” Moore said.

“And I will take the youngsters, probably 12 two-year-olds at least in the Iditarod. Try to train them a little bit and show them the ropes.”

This Quest finish is just outside the top 10 in speed, but with the brutal cold conditions throughout the race, it was good enough for top spot.

“This one wasn’t that difficult other than the temperatures,” Moore said post-race. “2011, my rookie year, it was the toughest race probably ever.

“This one comparatively was not as tough because the trail was great. The only thing you had to deal with was the cold; if you could deal with that, it was good.”

With the win, Moore stands alone with three Quest victories and on the chase for the record of four held by both Lance Mackey and Hans Gatt.

And even though it’s a year away, Moore said his plan is to come back for the next one and try to match that record.

“It’s always good to win,” Moore said as he was reminded of the poke of gold he also takes home for arriving first in Dawson City.

“I didn’t even think about those things until now I guess, but sounds good. Winning is always good, I don’t know what you say, I’ll come back next year and try for four.”

In 2016, Moore finished in third place at the Whitehorse finish, fewer than three hours back of winner Hugh Neff.

Moore said the final run was a lot more relaxing than his 2012 run into the finish – Moore lost the race by 26 seconds to Neff in a very tight finish in the chute.

Moore greeted fans outside the chute, shaking hands and taking photos while his dogs received VIP treatment with lots of food and admiration by the supporters on hand.

With one musher across the line, the race is still on for the other 14 mushers still out on the course.

Defending champion Matt Hall is expected next in Whitehorse early this afternoon.

Twenty-one-year-old Laura Neese is continuing her fast pace and is on her way from Braeburn, closely followed by the other 21-year-old in competition, rookie Vebjorn Reitan.

The top Canadian, Ed Hopkins, is just on his way out of Braeburn and starting his 76-mile run to the finish.

Paige Drobny from Ester, Alaska, was in second place out of Dawson, but has since fallen back after a long rest just outside of Carmacks. She is on the move again in sixth place.

Drobny cited leader issues when she arrived in Pelly Crossing, saying she didn’t have the type of dog team to make a big push for the top spots.

With the $125,000 US purse for the top 15 finishers of the Quest, all 15 remaining mushers will receive a percentage of the prize money.

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