FAIRBANKS (AP) — Musher Allen Moore was vindicated Monday when he lengthened his lead against defending champion Hugh Neff to win the 2013 Yukon Quest International Sled Dog Race.
Moore, 55, of Two Rivers, crossed the finish line in downtown Fairbanks at 6:54 a.m. Monday, to win the 30th running of the 1,000-mile sled dog race, which is either run from Fairbanks to Whitehorse, Yukon Territory, or the reverse, depending upon the year.
The race was run from Whitehorse to Fairbanks this year.
For winning, Moore receives $18,930 of the $100,000 race purse.
The race looked like it was going to again come down to a battle between Moore and Neff, who won last year’s Yukon Quest by just 26 seconds. That finish was the closest in race history with Neff overtaking Moore at the end.
Moore didn’t let his team get caught this year. He left the Two Rivers checkpoint after a mandatory eight-hour rest with about only a 15-minute lead on Neff but managed to widen the gap, according to the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner.
A small group of race officials and spectators greeted Moore in the predawn darkness at the finish line on the Chena River in downtown Fairbanks. Among them was Moore’s wife, veteran Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race musher Aliy Zirkle, who won the Quest in 2000. She finished second in the Iditarod last year.
Moore said he practiced running his team on the trail from his home in Two Rivers to Fairbanks so that he would know every turn coming into Fairbanks. Neff finished at 8:10 a.m. Monday, more than an hour later.
To position themselves in a fight for the finish again this year, Moore and Neff had to successfully get their teams over Eagle Summit, a 3,685-foot peak. The summit has caused big problems for both mushers before. One of Neff’s dogs died going up Eagle Summit two years ago. This year his lead dog turned around after failing to get the team to the top. Neff hooked up Walter, an older and more experienced dog, that marched his team over the top.
Moore said his team followed Neff’s over the summit despite very deep snow and blowing winds.
“It’s like the dogs were wallowing in the snow,” he said.
Moore passed Neff after that and led the way into the next checkpoint on his way to the finish line in Fairbanks.
Twenty-six teams started the race in Whitehorse nine days ago. As of Monday morning, five teams had scratched.
Information from: Fairbanks (Alaska) Daily News-Miner, http://www.newsminer.com