Whitehorse Daily Star

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Photo by Vince Fedoroff

ANOTHER ONE UNDER HIS BELT – Allen Moore mushes his team across the Yukon Quest International Sled Dog Race finish line in fourth place at about 1:30 p.m. Wednesday.

Mother Nature proved she’s boss, fourth placer says

On Wednesday, the 12th day of the 37th Yukon Quest, three-time Quest champion and perennial frontrunner Allen Moore crossed the finish line in Whitehorse at 1:20 p.m. with 12 dogs, securing fourth place.

By John Tonin on February 13, 2020

On Wednesday, the 12th day of the 37th Yukon Quest, three-time Quest champion and perennial frontrunner Allen Moore crossed the finish line in Whitehorse at 1:20 p.m. with 12 dogs, securing fourth place.

When he arrived, he received a giant hug from his wife, Aliy Zirkle. His daughter Bridgette gave the dogs a well-deserved snack of turkey skins.

The 2020 race marked a decade on the Quest trail for the Two Rivers, Ak. veteran. Like the three finishers before him, Moore said, he had to deal with snowy, windy conditions.

“It seems like Mother Nature likes to show that she’s boss, right at the end of a race especially,” said Moore.

“As soon as you cross under the bridge, the wind hits you in the face. It was blowing up exactly where we wanted to go.

“The closer we got around the corner, there I was waist-deep trying to find the trail for the dogs. It took a while. The snow is just piling up exactly right about where the trail is, so that’s the bad news.

“The good news is, I’m past it.”

Moore arrived in Dawson City shortly after third-place finisher Cody Strathe. Strathe continued to put more distance between them on the trail, and Moore joked it was his good sportsmanship that caused him to fall behind.

“The big change happened when I’m going along the trail and I see this huge bag and it weighs a lot and it’s Cody’s,” said Moore.

“So you know, he knew, that I was going to pick it up. It slowed me way down. That’s what I’m attributing it too.”

Knowing he probably wouldn’t be able to catch Strathe, Moore said he at least tried to make him sweat.

“I knew he would not get much sleep, that’s for sure,” said Moore. “I passed him a couple times in a sleeping bag and he jumped up ’cause he’s not going to let me get too far.

“The thing for him is his dogs were always faster. The only way I could have beat him is to get the same distance in front of him that he is in front of me because he could always catch me.”

Asked what it was like complete a 1,000-mile journey, Moore first joked, but then told the crowd about how when he nears the finish, he thinks back to past races.

“It feels like 10,000 because this is my 10th race,” said Moore. “I was reminiscing to myself, I guess, a little bit. The first time I came this way, it was Hugh Neff and myself.

“I was ahead of him 42 minutes and he caught me and passed me just a couple miles from here. I was right on his tail and I said, ‘oh, man, something’s gotta happen;’ I didn’t know he was anywhere close,” Moore said.

“We’re going along the trail and there is some glare ice and water. Not a very big spot, about as big of a table or something. His dogs saw that, and they’ve went through a lot of water the whole race, but they didn’t want to go through it.

“They went up the side of the bank and stopped. I could see the lights of this finish line. I just had to go around him and win. What do my dogs do? They go up beside him and stop,” Moore said.

“Now, after 1,000 miles, both of us are stopped on a side of a hill with the finish lights in sight. He got his team off there before and beat me by 26 seconds.”

“Those are the stories you think about now. Especially since, I may not be doing it again.”

Knowing he couldn’t catch Strathe, but also aware no one was going to overtake him, Moore said it was nice to relax and enjoy the trail.

“Definitely, I actually haven’t had a race like that,” said Moore.

“There wasn’t anyone really close behind me or in front of me. I actually left my seat on, which I never do, because you are usually racing. I could sit down and enjoy it.”

This race was tough because of the snow and wind, Moore said, but his first year running the Quest was his toughest because it had everything – wind, snow, jumble ice, and cold.

“You get a little bit of everything in the Quest,” said Moore.

“I guess my first Quest in 2011 was the toughest. That’s when we had all those things, really high winds, low temperatures and lots of now. A couple of people almost died on that race.”

Moore was in exclusive company when he began the 2020 race Feb. 1 in Fairbanks as one of only three mushers to repeat as champion.

Now, Brent Sass – who won this year’s Quest on Tuesday afternoon – can add his name to the group. Moore explained how difficult it is to win consecutively.

“When you get two in a row, you have a continuity with a team like any football team, basketball team,” said Moore. “They just jell together. He’s done pretty good at that.”

Moore had a four-year run from 2012-2015 where he was second or first. He accomplished the repeat in 2013 and 2014. He won again in 2018.

“That was a particular group of dogs, and that’s what he(Sass) has right now,” said Moore.

“The trick is to replace them when they get older, and it’s hard to do. But he’s got a great team right now.”

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