Competitive and Adventurous are traits that define the highest caliber participants in extreme sports.
For Allen, in the past 25 years, dog mushing has grown from a fun family pastime into an all consuming, race focused, sled dog centered way of life. His rare inner determination combined with a modest character makes him extremely successful.
Allen races SP Kennel’s Black Team. He is a two time champion (2013 and 2014) and dominant competitor in the Yukon Quest International Sled Dog Race since 2011. Allen also competes in mid-distances races throughout the season. One of his favorite races is the “Toughest 300 Miles” Copper Basin Sled Dog Race of which he is a six time champion.
Allen raced the Yukon Quest for the first time in 2011. That year was incredibly challenging, with over one-third of the entrants withdrawing from the race, as well as the two leading teams failing to make it over the infamous mountains only 100 miles from the finish line. This was a grueling race for a rookie with temperatures down to -60 F and overflow water deep enough to swim across. However, Allen finished the race with a grin and placed 6th.
Allen is also the JV coach and musher racing Iditarod with SP Kennel’s young dogs. It is this team that develops the future race dogs for the kennel. Allen has a rare talent for teaching a young dog to find his or her individual potential as an Iditarod racer. His goal in Iditarod is to finish the race with an educated and excited team of youngsters who will be ready to compete at the highest level in the following years.
This Yukon Quest / Iditarod race combo places Allen in the ‘back-to-back’ club. This club is a group of elite, tough and dedicated mushers who compete in the two long distance marathon races in the same season. This means he races over 2,000 miles by dog sled in a very short period of time.
Allen is known as a musher’s musher. He has been awarded the Sportsmanship Trophy multiple times in the Iditarod and Yukon Quest. He has both rescued and aided competitors all while remaining competitive.
Learning to Mush
Allen was living in Arkansas and wanted to move as far away from the summer heat as possible. Alaska became his destination. He moved to Alaska over 25 years ago.
When Allen arrived in Alaska he moved to Fairbanks. There is a sled dog track in town that was very popular. On weekends families with children – young and old – would bring their dogs to the track to compete in short races. As a father of two active girls he found himself at the sled dog track often. The girls started in the one-dog sprint class and over the years moved up in classes to larger and larger number of dogs. As a supportive dad, Allen’s soon became both the dog trainer and the children’s coach. He soon found the family house and yard full of Alaskan Huskies. Sprint mushing became important to the whole family. As the girls grew older, their hobbies changed, but Allen always kept the sled dogs. He was hooked for life.
Allen went to college at Arkansas State University. He studied mainly sciences and biology and earned a degree in Wildlife Management. Allen played point guard in basketball throughout his college years. He has always been a competitive athlete; playing football, basketball and running track while growing up.
While Allen lived and studied in Arkansas, his dream was to move to Alaska. His mother had moved the family to Alaska when he was six years old and he attended first grade in Anchorage. Allen kept those young memories of wildlife, adventure and cool weather at the forefront of his mind. He knew that he would return someday.
Allen’s passion these days is fitness. He has dedicated himself to a daily workout routine. Most mornings you will find him in the kennel’s “work out room” – a small area with a treadmill, an elliptical, a Bowflex and a pull up bar. Allen has now convinced Aliy that the fitness of the dogs is not the only condition to worry about. The fitness of the musher is just as important.
Over the years, Aliy and Allen have donated their time, money and efforts to try and improve the community in which they live. Alaska is a vast country of compassionate and hard working people who face their share of modern social issues and problems.
Allen likes to give back to the people that have been so good to him. The Yukon Quest International Sled Dog Race is an amazing event that is primarily staffed by local volunteers. Allen feels that it is tremendously important to give back to those people. The Copper Basin 300 is similar. The small Alaskan town of Glennallen hosts the annual sled dog race. Allen and Aliy spoke at the Community College, to both children and adults, telling mushing stories – some good and some bad – but all entertaining.
Allen and Aliy have attended the ‘Feast for the Beast’ fundraiser for the Alaska Zoo for the last 5 years. The zoo provides a home for orphaned, injured and captive-born Arctic, sub-Arctic animals.
SP Kennel is fortunate to be associated with individuals and companies who have similar community service missions:
– Matson and SP Kennel have partnered in fundraising for the Covenant House in Anchorage. Allen and Aliy traveled to Dutch Harbor aboard the Kodiak D7 Class Containership to speak at a community event.
- Verizon, Allen and Aliy presented scholarships to the students in the robotics club at Eagle River High School STEM eduction class.
- Kennel supporter, Bob Huston, of Anchorage, has coordinated many of Allen and Aliy’s school visits and community presentations.
- Allen and Aliy are also involved with supporting our military. Thank you for your service!
The support from fans and friends worldwide has been amazing. The cheers that came from the state of Arkansas could be heard across the arctic tundra when Allen won the Yukon Quest. It is this excitement that continues to inspire Allen to race and put out the best he can, year after year.
Family and Childhood
Allen is a born and raised Arkansas native. His hometown is in the northeast corner of the state; a town called Manila. His mother’s family is originally from the Ozarks. The family still has a homestead in “56”, Arkansas. Allen’s Momma, Donnie, is his biggest fan and has traveled to Alaska over 30 times. She has stood on many finish lines greeting her son with a big smile (and a few tears.)
Allen and Aliy met over 20 years ago. They were married in 2004. SP Kennel is a joint effort that could not function without both Allen and Aliy’s complete focus, energy, and commitment.
Allen enjoys family and fishing – often the two go hand in hand. Allen’s adult daughters, Bridgett and Jennifer, now have families of their own. They all live in Alaska and are often part of SP Kennel events, gatherings, and races.