FAIRBANKS, AK (YukonQuest.com) - Meet Allen Moore, two-time Yukon Quest champion. That has a nice ring to it, doesn't it?
After more than 900 miles, Moore was the first musher to cross the finish line at Takhini Hot Springs, at 3:11 am Monday morning. He was greeted by applause and whistles from the crowd, as he broke his own record with a total trail time of eight days, 14 hours and 21 minutes.
That record will come with an asterix, since this year's race was 80 miles shorter than usual due to the removal of American Summit and the final leg to Whitehorse from the trail. Last year, Mooreʼs finishing time was eight days, 19 hours and 39 minutes, when the trail was 50 miles shorter due to the removal of American Summit.
Still, it's a fast run for the veteran musher – one that will bring him first-place prize money and confirm his place amongst the Yukon Quest's best competitors.
"I guess we're doing a few things right anyway," Moore said with a laugh at the finish line. "But mainly we have some good dogs right now, and they're hard to come by, just like a basketball or football team. Once you get that, you have a pretty good team for a few years."
This year's team is once again led by Quito, who won the Golden Harness Award as Moore's top dog after his victory in 2013.
"She's always been in the lead and she's just the best dog a person could have," he said. "I'd say what, the last four years, she's run back to back Quests and Iditarods…I'm gettin' choked up…in lead and I wish we had a lot more like her."
Will we see Quito for another Yukon Quest?
"I would hope so. Until she tells us she doesn't want to do it anymore…and she hasn't said that yet."
While Moore was happy with the victory, he couldn't help but be a little disappointed that it wasn't the race everyone had thought would happen on the final leg. After Brent Sass was injured Sunday in a fall off his sled, he was withdrawn from the race and Moore was all alone in front.
He got emotional when talking about the absence of Sass.
"We would have been neck ‘n neck all the way here. We would have probably both slid around that corner out there. He said, next year."
Asked to pick a particular moment in this year's race that stood out, Moore replied, "I enjoy now. I'll enjoy it more when I'm in the hot springs."
The last musher to win a Yukon Quest that finished at the Takhini Hot Springs was Mooreʼs wife, Aliy Zirkle. Zirkle also won the YQ300 last week, marking the first time a husband and wife won both the long and mid-distance races in the same year.