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.
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.
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.
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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