A decision to rest early in the race instead of late in the race made the difference for Two Rivers musher Allen Moore, who earned his fourth Copper Basin 300 sled-dog championship Monday in wet, warm and windy Glennallen.
Moore captured victory at 11:22 a.m. when leaders Olivia and Quito guided a team of 11 dogs across the finish line. He claimed $6,000 for the win, his first since he took consecutive crowns in 2007-08.
Not far behind were second-place Gerry Willomitzer at 11:47 a.m. and third-place Jake Berkowitz at 11:53. The six-minute gap was worth $1,500 for Willomitzer, the difference between the $4,500 second-place prize and the $3,000 third-place prize.
Moore chased Willomitzer and Berkowitz across the Copper River valley all day and night Sunday before leaving them behind at Lake Louise, 50 miles from the finish.
Though he was routinely clocking the fastest run times on the 300-mile course, Moore was also logging more rest time at checkpoints than the other frontrunners early in the race. Rules require mushers to take one six-hour layover at the checkpoint of their choice and to log an additional 12 hours in any increment at any checkpoint.
By the time he reached Lake Louise, Moore had all but met his layover requirement and was able to blow through the checkpoint while Willomitzer and Berkowitz stayed behind to fulfill theirs.
Berkowitz, the 2011 champion from Big Lake, was first to arrive at Lake Louise Lodge, pulling in at 1:56 a.m. Monday. Willomitzer soon followed.
Moore didn’t get there until 4:22, but he stayed a mere 33 minutes before resuming his race at 4:55 a.m. Berkowitz and Willomitzer couldn’t leave until more than an hour later, at 5:56 a.m. and 5:58 a.m., respectively.
Moore held off his pursuers over the final 50 miles to win one of the few mid-distance races this season that have not been canceled due to poor conditions.
And even this race was compromised by the weather. Early Monday evening, race officials switched the finish line from Glennallen to Tolsana, 25 closer to Lake Louise, because of open water and ice on the trail to Glennallen.
Copper Basin 300
Finishers as of 7 p.m. Monday (Glennallen finish line)
1) Allen Moore 11:22 a.m., 2) Gerry Willomitzer 11:48, 3) Jake Berkowitz 11:53, 4) Nicholas Petit 1:40 p.m., 5) Marcus Ingebretsen 1:49, 6) Brent Sass 1:50, 7) Hugh Neff 3 p.m., 8) Michelle Phillips 3:07, 9) Cody Strathe 4:34, 10) Christine Turner 4:55, 11) Dan Kaduce 4:55, 12) Curt Perano 5:48, 13) Lev Shvarts 6:28, 14) Matt Hall 6:39 p.m.