The Yukon Quest International Sled Dog Race is a tough endeavor. Winning it is something generally only the best can do: the best mushers and the best dogs. Sometimes nature intervenes on the trail and someone unexpected comes out on top, but the race’s history shows that it’s the wise and the wily who have the edge.
Allen Moore, of Two Rivers, is certainly among them, having claimed his third Yukon Quest title in a convincing manner early Tuesday in Whitehorse, Yukon. He and his full team of 14 dogs arrived at the finish line at 6:59 a.m. Alaska time, several hours ahead of 2017 champion Matt Hall, also of Two Rivers.
Mr. Moore and his wife, 2000 Yukon Quest champion Aliy Zirkle, who has become an annual pick to win the Iditarod, operate their SP Kennel in Two Rivers and have become among the most-recognizable and successful names in the sport of long-distance and mid-distance mushing. They are fan favorites, something demonstrated once again as Mr. Moore spent time visiting with fans at the finish line in Whitehorse not long after capturing his third title.
So a loud “Congratulations” go out to Mr. Moore and to the dogs, which the three-time Quest champion said we’ll see again next month on the Iditarod trail, this time with Mrs. Zirkle in command.
Fans need to remember, however, that the race didn’t end with the victory by Mr. Moore and his team. The other mushers on the trail don’t suddenly pack up and go home. Mr. Hall finished shortly before 2 p.m. Alaska time in second place, leaving 12 teams on the trail out of the 26 who started the race in Fairbanks on Feb. 3.
Those remaining teams were spread across 170 miles of trail, meaning the finish line will remain an active site for a few more days.
This year’s Quest took a particular toll on the field. The deep and sustained cold of the first half of the race can’t be discounted as a factor in the decimation of the field. Temperatures hung in the 40s below for many days.
The severe cold made the race even tougher than usual. The Quest is already known to be inarguably harder than the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, having fewer checkpoints and therefore greater distances between them, as well as difficult climbs such as Rosebud, Eagle Summit, American Summit and King Solomon’s Dome.
And that’s what makes Mr. Moore’s accomplishment of three championships that much more notable. Also, he achieved his third title amid a competitive field that included last year’s champion; two-time champion Hugh Neff, of Tok; accomplished mushers, such as the Yukon’s Ed Hopkins; and up-and-comers like Michigan’s Laura Neese.
Mr. Moore said he’ll be back at the Quest again next year, likely with the aim of becoming the race’s third four-time winner, a feat accomplished by Lance Mackey of Fairbanks and Hans Gatt of Whitehorse. But we bet he won’t stop there; we bet he’ll ultimately aim to become the first five-time champion.
For now, though, let’s congratulate Allen Moore; his wife; and their dogs on winning the 2018 Yukon Quest.
— Fairbanks Daily News-Miner,