John Hessert drives his team to the finish line of the Copper Basin 300 in Glennallen, Alaska Monday, Jan. 10, 2005. Allen Moore, a veteran musher from Two Rivers, Alaska won the 300-mile sled dog race.
AP Photo/Mark Henspeter
ANCHORAGE, Alaska Allen Moore, a veteran musher from Two Rivers, has won the 2005 Copper Basin 300, his first victory.
Moore, who finished fifth in last year's race, crossed the finish line in Glennallen at 2:40 p.m. Monday, clocking in at 52 hours and 32 minutes. He completed the 300-mile race with 11 dogs, dropping just one dog since Saturday's start.
''It feels great,'' said Moore, 47. ''Sometimes everything goes together like it should. This time it did.''
Second was Matt Hayashida, who finished at 3:58 p.m. with seven dogs. He was followed at 4:49 p.m by third-generation musher Ray Redington Jr. of Two Rivers. Zack Steer of Sheep Mountain was fourth, coming in at 5:50 p.m., followed five minutes later by Lance Mackey of Kasilof.
The Copper Basin 300, considered one of the state's premier mid-distance sled dog races, is a qualifying race for the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race. This year's total purse is $18,000.
The final 120 miles were great and smooth, Moore said. But the first half was difficult, often treacherous, forcing musher after musher to abandon the race.
As of Monday afternoon, 21 of the 40 mushers who started had scratched. Race officials said mushers blamed young dog teams and a difficult trail early on. In one stretch, Moore's dogs kept sinking chest deep through punchy snow, he said.
Among those who scratched were four-time Iditarod champion Martin Buser of Big Lake and three-time Yukon Quest Hans Gatt of Atlin, British Columbia.
Tyrell Seavey, son of 2004 Iditarod champ Mitch Seavey, dropped out of the race soon after the start after taking a tumble along a slick stretch of icy trail, Moore said.
''It was on the first 50 miles of the trail, where everything had melted and then refroze,'' he said. ''Dogs were sliding. So were sleds and people.''
A group of snowmachiners preparing the trail broke through thin ice on Paxson Lake early Sunday and plunged into water. The snowmachiners swam and crawled their way onto solid ice in zero-degree air, then spent hours feeding a small fire as they waited for help.
Despite the challenging conditions, Moore had to drop only one dog, a 2-year-old male in its first race. But that didn't happen until the final checkpoint at Tolsona Lake, 24 miles from the finish line.
The other dogs are ''veterans that have been through just about everything,'' Moore said.
Moore has been running sled dogs since the early 1990s, focusing on shorter and mid-distance races.
Even with his first win, he has no immediate plans to run in 1,100-mile Iditarod although most of the dogs that carried him to victory are training for that race with his wife of four months, Aliy Zirkle of Two Rivers, a former winner of the 1,000-mile Yukon Quest.
''I run the smaller races and she runs in the big ones,'' Moore said. ''But you never know, I just may do it someday. For now I don't mind the shorter ones.''
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