ANCHORAGE - Allen Moore, a veteran musher from Two Rivers, claimed his first victory on Monday when he won the 2005 Copper Basin 300.
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, 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, whose wife of four months and kennel partner is Aliy Zirkle, the only woman to win the 1,000-mile-plus Yukon Quest International Sled Dog Race and a veteran of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race. "Sometimes everything goes together like it should. This time it did."
In second place was Matt Hayashida, who finished at 3:58 p.m. with seven dogs for a total time of 53:50. Hayashida lists his hometown as Wasilla, but he spends his summers giving dog sled tours near Skagway. Hayashida ran his own team for this race, but he's a two-time finisher of the Iditarod after driving the puppy team to Nome for four-time Iditarod champion Martin Buser of Big Lake.
"Since 2001, my wife, Sarah, and I have owned and operated Rubicon Kennels," Hayashida wrote in his Copper Basin 300 musher biography. "Most of the dogs were born and raised on the Denver Glacier near Skagway where we give our tours. We are running in the CB300 to race our dogs on challenging trails against some of the best competition."
Hayashida was followed at 4:49 p.m by third-generation musher Ray Redington Jr. of Two Rivers. Redington is a third-generation Iditarod musher and is the grandson of race founder Joe Redington Sr. and son of Iditarod veteran Ray Redington Sr.
Zack Steer of Sheep Mountain was fourth, coming in at 5:50 p.m. Steer was the 2003 Copper Basin 300 champion and last year's CB300 and Yukon Quest runner-up.
Steer was followed five minutes later by Lance Mackey of Kasilof. Mackey is the son of 1978 Iditarod champion Dick Mackey and brother of 1983 Iditarod champion Rick Mackey.
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, including several prominent mushers. 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 Buser, who won the Copper Basin 300 in 1999 and is an eight-time runner-up in the CB300, and three-time Yukon Quest champion Hans Gatt of Atlin, British Columbia.
Also scratching was Thomas Tetz of Tagish, Yukon Territory, who drove a team of dogs owned by Juneau's Deborah Bicknell to ninth place in last year's Yukon Quest.
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, Zirkle.
"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."
Juneau Empire sports editor Charles Bingham contributed to this story.