UPDATED: Allen Moore Wins Yukon Quest
When the race ended in Whitehorse last year, Moore said he felt Neff coaxed him into a final-leg run on unfamiliar turf. Not this time.
Moore lives in Two Rivers, and he’s made countless training runs on the 72-mile trail he’s running into Fairbanks.
“I know every inch of this trail really well,” Moore said. “I know every turn.”
Moore arrived first at the checkpoint — called Two Rivers by the Quest but far from the Chena Hot Springs Road community of the same name — and departed at 10:31 p.m. Sunday after a mandatory eight-hour layover. Neff gave chase at 10:47 p.m.
They’ll both be running mostly naked sleds to maximize their speed, with only mandatory gear and some water aboard.
“I took out all my Playboy magazines,” Neff said with a smile while hanging clothes to dry before his final run.
Moore and Neff maintained their
lead into the checkpoint by clearing the final big hurdle of the race Sunday — a successful climb of Eagle Summit, a 3,685-foot peak that’s vexed them both in the past.
Moore spent hours trying to make his way up the summit in 2011, finally resorting to packing each dog individually up the mountain when his team stalled.
Neff had a tragic run up Eagle Summit two years ago, when one of his dogs, Geromino, died after a failed ascent. He subsequently scratched from the race.
The difference this year for Neff was his legendary dog Walter, an 8-year-old who was injured before the doomed climb up Eagle Summit in 2011.
After a younger lead dog, George, turned back on Sunday while failing to climb the summit, Neff hooked up Walter to lead, moved in front of his team and marched over the top, he said.
Moore said his team followed over the summit despite deep snow and blowing winds, conditions that he said were almost like swimming with his team to the top.
“It’s like the dogs were wallowing in the snow,” he said.
Moore passed Neff at the 101 Mile checkpoint along the Steese Highway, then led all the way into the next checkpoint.
The two joked about their tight finish in 2012 in the Quest hospitality tent on Sunday, talking about how luck, talent and decision-making form the ingredients needed to claim a victory in a 1,000-mile dog race — especially one that comes down to the end.
Those same ingredients may come into play today, Neff said.
“It’s really all about everyone clicking,” he said. “Whatever happens, this has been a good race.”