After 15 Iditarods, Manchester native Aliy Zirkle ready for the win

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Listen and watch the video above featuring SP Kennel teams led by Aliy Zirkle and her husband, Allen Moore, both competing in Iditarod 2015.


ALASKA – Manchester native Aliy Zirkle is on a quest to make dog-sledding history. She’s running her 15th Iditarod.

For the past three years, she has come in second place. This year, she is in it to win it.

Aliy Zirkle and her team are off at the start of Iditarod 2015.
Aliy Zirkle and her team are off at the start of Iditarod 2015.

Zirkle, 45, and her team of 16 dogs were the first team out of Tanana Tuesday night, leading the field down the Yukon River toward Ruby on the race’s longest leg, according to this report by Alaska Public Radio.

But by March 13 Zirkle was listed as No. 11 in the standings, which can fluctuate wildly for mushers based on cycles of sleep and rest and check-ins.

The nearly 1,000 mile race spans about two weeks, and anything can happen. Harsh weather conditions and the stamina of musher and team make or break those who seek victory and the $70,000 prize. The race is expected to finish around March 17.

Mushers are required to take a mandatory eight-hour rest at a checkpoint along the river. Sub-zero temperatures helped some mushers decide to take the rest early, including Zirkle.

Dogs from Allen Moore's "black team" hit the hay.
Dogs from Allen Moore\’s \”black team\” hit the hay.

In addition to sleep, during the 24-hour layover, the routine includes at least three or maybe four meals for the dogs supplemented with meat and fat. Zirkle will give each dog thorough body, leg and foot massages with Algyval and apply “pink ointment” foot salve on all 64 feet. She will also walk each dog after their first long sleep to loosen them up, as keeping them immobile for the whole time will only serve to stiffen them up a bit just like it would a human.

Zirkle finished second the last three years, losing twice to Dallas Seavey and once to Mitch Seavey. Zirkle’s husband, Allen Moore, is also competing.

Last year Zirkle lost on a strategic error when she waited out a blizzard at the last checkpoint for nearly two hours and 40 minutes, and ended up losing by just two minutes, 22 seconds.

You can follow along with Zirkle’s progress via updates at the SP Kennel Dog Blog.

Alyi Zirkle gets a bib adjustment.
Aliy Zirkle gets a bib adjustment.

More about Zirkle from her official bio: Aliy Zirkle was born in Manchester and spent her childhood in New Hampshire, Puerto Rico, and Missouri. She graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with a degree in Biology and Anthropology and came to Alaska in 1990, where she lived in a wall tent on the Alaskan Peninsula and worked for the United States Fish and Wildlife Service.

She’s lived in Two Rivers, Alaska, for the last 17 years and says she “enjoys the community and the surrounding wild lands.” Zirkle lists her occupation as “dog musher” and has finished the Iditarod 14 times.

“Iditarod is my passion, my job, my life … Alaskan husky sled dogs are the focus of my life. We breed, raise and train the best individual dogs we possibly can at SP Kennel in Two Rivers. I began mushing dogs over 20 years ago because I enjoyed dogs. I still do. We have some of the most talented, fun-loving, dedicated sled dogs in the world, so racing them on the largest stage in the world – the Iditarod – seems only fitting!”

She is married to Iditarod veteran Allen Moore, also an entrant in the 2015 Iditarod.

Zirkle has two adult step-daughters, Bridgett and Jennifer. When asked what she enjoys, she says “hiking and drinking good coffee.”

Click here for more on Zirkle, including beautiful photographs, via Aljazeera America.


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About Carol Robidoux 5217 Articles
Journalist and editor of ManchesterInkLink.com, a hyperlocal news and information site for Manchester, NH.
  • Margery Glickman

    Aliy Zirkle has repeatedly forced sick dogs to race in the Iditarod, including those
    who had kennel cough. Dogs with this disease are supposed to stay warm and rest. She raced a 33-pound dog in the 1,000-mile Iditarod even though dogs generally lose weight during the race. Her dogs are at risk of getting salmon poisoning disease because she feeds them tons of salmon. Zirkle and her husband Allen Moore raffled off five of their dogs as if the dogs were pieces of junk. Jane Heller, founder and director of The Humane Society of Southern Maryland Inc. and York, PA said, “Aliy Zirkle and her husband, Allen Moore, who are raffling off Huskies, clearly have no experience in placing a pet in a new home. No reputable shelter or rescue would ever think of raffling off any pet because serious effort must be made to insure a suitable owner. Nor would a reputable breeder raffle off a dog. Even breeders trying to make money from selling a dog want it to go to a suitable home, not someone who for a ‘lark’ joins a raffle and ends up with a dog they may not actually want, thereby condemning the dog to the possibility of euthanasia in a kill shelter. Obviously, Zirkle and Moore care little for the dogs they breed….”
    FACTS: http://helpsleddogs.org

    • Sending someone to your website for facts is like sending someone to hardware store for tomatoes. On your website you substantiate your claim about kennel cough treatment based on claims from a website. Clearly the reputable veterinarians who oversee the race have a different expert opinion.

      As to Aliy raffling off dogs; first, what was offered was not a raffle, it was a drawing. Aliy and her husband Aliy Moore run the incomparable SP Kennel, and they have a fan club for their dogs. The winner of the drawing that Marge refers to allows the winner to “aquire” that dog in the same way that fantasy football players “own” an NFL player. It is virtual, not actual.

      “Every two weeks, from October 17th until March 31st, SP Kennel will have a random drawing from all of the Dog Fans. We will announce the winning Dog Fan and his or her lucky dog will get some extra treats — courtesy of the SP Kennel Dog Fan Biscuit Bucket. As well, the winning Dog Fan will get a photo of their #1 Dog plus an SP Kennel prize. These will be surprise prizes depending on activities at SP Kennel that week.”

      In reality, SP Kennel has some of the most stringent criteria for placing their retired dogs with homes. It simply points out how ludicrous you and the The Humane Society of Southern Maryland are, and the lengths you are willing to go to try to discredit this race. You offer propaganda, not facts.

    • This could be considered a “smoking gun” http://www.mikekinville.com/?p=199