AliyZirkle, right, greets fans at the finish line of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, Tuesday, March 15,  2016, in Nome, Alaska. Zirkle finished third. (AP Photo/Mark Thiessen)

AliyZirkle, right, greets fans at the finish line of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, Tuesday, March 15, 2016, in Nome, Alaska. Zirkle finished third. (AP Photo/Mark Thiessen)

Musher places 3rd in Iditarod after being attacked on trail

  • By Mark Thiessen
  • Tuesday, March 15, 2016 9:53pm
  • News

NOME, Alaska — Musher Aliy Zirkle on Tuesday completed a bittersweet Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race across Alaska, and credited the people of Alaska with helping her pull through a harrowing ride in which she was attacked by a man on a snowmobile.

Zirkle brought her team of 13 dogs down Nome’s Front Street through a boisterous crowd chanting her name Tuesday morning.

It’s Zirkle’s fifth consecutive top five finish.

The attacks on Zirkle and four-time champion Jeff King marred this year’s race across two mountain ranges, down the mighty Yukon River and along the wind-scoured Bering Sea coast. Prosecutors contend the man rammed both mushers’ dog teams or sleds, killing one of King’s dogs and injuring or bruising others on both teams.

An exhausted Zirkle didn’t address the attack directly in post-race interviews. However, she did say this year’s Iditarod was “really hard, physically and emotionally.”

Zirkle said her nature in these situations is to count only on herself and her dogs. But something happened — and then kept happening — after the early Saturday morning attack.

“It’s kind of what I did, and then Alaska like tugged back,” she said. “Every checkpoint I went through, people were so supportive.

“I couldn’t just be with myself. It turned out, I was with everyone,” said Zirkle, who is a favorite of mushing fans.

Zirkle had appeared shaken on a video after the attack telling a race official: “Someone tried to kill me with a snowmachine,” using the Alaska term for snowmobile.

She was attempting to become only the third woman ever to win the nearly thousand-mile race across Alaska and the first since the late Susan Butcher won her fourth title in 1990. Zirkle finished second from 2012-2014, before dropping to fifth place last year.

Zirkle was born in Manchester, New Hampshire, in 1969 and first came to Alaska in 1990, midway through getting a degree in biology from the University of Pennsylvania.

She lived in a wall tent on the Alaska Peninsula, counting birds for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

She went back to college and finished her degree in 1992, and then came right back to Alaska. She and her husband, musher Allen Moore, own a kennel. Both are entered in this year’s race, and he was running in 32nd place.

They built their home in Two Rivers, Alaska, where they hunt moose in the fall.

At the finish line, fans chanted her name, hugged her and she even got a bouquet of roses.

“People are incredibly supportive of me. I guess I better go hold up my end of the bargain,” she said.

More in News

Gary Porter, owner of Bald Mountain Air Service, stands in front of his Twin Otter airplane Friday, Oct. 22. (Photo by Sarah Knapp/Homer News)
City Council passes aircraft flat tax rate

The Homer City Council held a public hearing for Ordinance 21-62 concerning a flat tax on aircrafts.

Amelie Bignell, of Soldotna, drops a treat in the bucket of Hayden Jones, of Soldotna, on Saturday, Oct. 31, 2020, at a “trunk-or-treat” event at Orca Theatre on Kalifornsky Beach Road in Alaska. Jones was dressed as Vampirina. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)
All Halloween all weekend

A sinister performance, pumpkin carving contest, food drive, pet microchip event and multiple trick-or-treats are on the docket.

Bill Elam (center) nominates Brent Hibbert to be president of the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly on Tuesday, Oct. 26, 2021 in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Johnson elected assembly president; Hibbert to be vice president

Prior to Tuesday, Johnson, who represents Kasilof, served as the assembly’s vice president.

Homer Senior Citizen Center residents participated in a worldwide Televeda bingo event to set a Guinness world record on Friday, Oct. 22. (Photo by Sarah Knapp/Homer News)
Homer senior citizens help break world record

The game was held to fight against social isolation in senior communities caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

This illustration provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in January 2020 shows the 2019 Novel Coronavirus. (CDC)
State hospitalizations still on the rise

Despite a decrease in cases, the state is still seeing hospitalization surge.

The Seward welcome sign is photographed in July 2021. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)
Seward vice mayor and council member resigns

The council accept the resignation of Tony Baclaan during its Monday night meeting.

Ben Mohr watches Kenai River Junior Classic participants head out to fish on the Kenai River in Soldotna, Alaska, on Wednesday, Aug. 11, 2021. (Camille Botello / Peninsula Clarion)
Mohr resigns as director of KRSA

He has been the executive director of KRSA for nearly three years.

Heather and Hunter Phillips walk through the Kenai Community Library Haunted Hunt with their mom Kumi Phillips on Tuesday, Oct. 26, 2021. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion)
Scary reads

Spooky literary characters come to life at Kenai library haunted house.

Most Read