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Allen Moore's late surge is enough to win Copper Basin 300 sled-dog race

Alaska Dispatch
Helen Hegener/Northern Light Media photo

This time, Allen Moore was first across the finish line in tightly contested sled-dog race.

Nearly a year ago, Moore was passed in the home stretch of the Yukon Quest International Sled Dog Race, losing by less than a minute after 1,000 miles of mushing. But on Monday, he held off Canadian Gerry Willomitzer by 25 minutes to capture his fourth Copper Basin 300 championship in Glennallen and earn $6,000. Moore hit the finish line at 11:22 a.m., for an elapsed time of 49 hours, 14 minutes. The winningest musher in Copper Basin 300 history, Moore also won in 2008, 2007 and 2005.

Jake Berkowitz, the 2011 champion, was third, finishing six minutes behind Willomitzer to take home $3,000. Willomitzer earned $4,500.

The Copper Basin looked in jeopardy last year when the race was cancelled due to a lack of trails. Most members of the race’s board of directors resigned and it was announced there would be no race.

But after this year's lousy winter weather cancelled several early-season Alaska races, mushers appealed for reinstatement and eventually 37 mushers signed up. 

Many racers contend the Copper Basin is the best Iditarod training race in the state, given the course's ability to challenge teams with mountains, open water, cold, wind, ice and more.

"This race has a reputation for being a tough race,'' race manager Zack Steer said before Saturday’s start.

Arriving at the Lake Louise Lodge checkpoint, 50 miles from the finish line, Berkowitz had a two and a half hour lead, but Moore blew through the checkpoint, stopping only 33 minutes, to seize the lead. Moore’s two lead dogs, Quito and Olivia, paced the Two Rivers musher all 300 miles.

Congratulations were already being offered midday Monday on the SP Kennel Dog Log, a website maintained by Moore and his wife, 2012 Iditarod runner-up Aily Zirkle. "We think this race time might set the record for the race, but must wait for the official times to be posted."

Canadian William Kleedehn holds the race record of 47 hours, 44 minutes, set in 2004. Moore's winning time ended up as the third fastest in race's 24 years.