Thursday, March 24, 2011

Interview with Aliy (aka Alex Morris)

Each year, students from around the United States study the Iditarod and follow Aliy and Allen's teams from Anchorage to Nome. We love all their interest and support and got a real kick out of Grace Morris' mock interview!

Producer..........Grace Morris
Aliy Zirkle.......Alex Morris
Quito.............Hank the cowdog

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Spring Sledding

Just because the racing season is over, doesn't mean that we're hanging up the sleds. As long as there is snow on the ground, SP Kennel dogs are out playing in it. So with hardly a day of rest, Aliy and Allen have left for the Denali Highway to prepare for this year's week-long adventure trips. Tom and Jeanne are arriving today and will meet Allen and Aliy tomorrow afternoon for a week of mushing through Denali National Park!

With the warm weather and bluebird skies, the whole crew is in for a treat. We'll be sure to post updates, pictures, and videos of their adventure trip!

While Aliy, Allen, and Kaz are busy with the Adventure Trips, I'll be preparing a group of dogs for Dr. Mike Davis' upcoming treadmill study. In preparation for the tests, at least five dogs who are comfortable on the treadmill need to run 400 race-like miles. Beginning next Thursday, I'll take a team of twelve dogs on a 400-mile training run along the Denali Highway with stops at Alpine Creek Lodge, Maclaren Lodge, and Paxson Lodge. Should be fun!

Sunday, March 20, 2011


The Iditarod Awards Banquet was held tonight in Nome. We already knew Allen had won the Sportsmanship Award for saving Karin Hendrickson's life. It was an open & closed nomination. Here is the article telling what happened.

We didn't know Aliy was going to win the Humanitarian Award for Excellent Dog Care. The Veterinarians of the Iditarod vote on the musher who took the best care of her dogs on the race. This is the second time Aliy has been honored with this award.

Here at SP Kennel, there is no greater award or win than taking care of our dogs and being a good sportsman. We are SO proud of both of them.

Saturday, March 19, 2011


Some of the dogs rode home in style.

Dogs Safely Home

Doug and Ryne arrived home with the dogs at about 6pm AST. The dogs flew out of Nome last night and Doug and Ryne picked them up in Anchorage. The duo flew out of Nome earlier yesterday. They picked up the dropped dogs in Wasilla this morning and headed north. Now we are just waiting on Aliy and Allen.

Nome photos

All 23 dogs were safely flown out of Nome last night on a cargo airplane headed to Anchorage. In total, 1,716 pounds of dogs, sleds and gear were shipped out.

Ryne and Doug were waiting at the Anchorage Airport to transfer the dogs to the Big Red Dog Truck. An additional truck was needed to haul the sleds, gear and airplane transport boxes.

We expect the caravan to arrive in Two Rivers this evening.

Before the dogs left Nome, we took a few minutes to snap some "glamour shots" in the beautiful blue sky afternoon.

Allen, Cha Cha and Ranger

Aliy, Quito and Nacho

Thursday, March 17, 2011

The Ladies at Rest

After a long race, Teddy, Bullet & ChaCha get a well deserved rest.

Dogs Resting in Nome

All the dogs are resting comfortably at Bridgett & Scotty's house.

Allen Finishes in Nome - Video

Allen arrived in 24th position with 12 dogs at 10:37 pm AST. The whole Moore - Zirkle clan was waiting for Allen to come in.

We will be putting up a bit more about the 2011 Iditarod over the next few days, but this is the end of the official race coverage. Thank you so much for following the race with us.

Congratulations to Aliy and Allen and the Red and Black Teams!!!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Allen Approaching Nome

Allen is 8 miles out of Nome.  Aliy and the whole crew are heading out the road to see Allen cross the road.  We will keep you up to date.

The Aliy Cam: Aliy Finishing in Nome

Iditarod Finish Line

The Aliy Cam: Iditarod 2011 Blow Hole of Safety

Just outside Safety, Aliy and the Red Team ran into a ground blizzard.

Aliy Arrives in Nome

Aliy passes Dee Dee on final stretch to Nome.

Almost Here

We just heard she passed Dee Dee Johnroe.

Sent from Yahoo! Mail on Android

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

In Nome Awaiting Aliy

Sorry for the dark time on the Blog. I just couldn't do it. I wasn't supposed to come to Nome this year, but I just couldn't stay away. Sammy and I just arrived in Nome and the whole clan is camping out at Bridgett and Scotty's house waiting for Aliy to arrive.

Aliy is almost in Safety and keeping a good speed. I hope she can pass Anderson, but we will see. We expect her in at about 1 am to 2 am AST.

Allen is on his way to White Mountain, still having a great race. We expect him in about early afternoon tomorrow.

John Baker Wins 2011 Iditarod

John Baker of Kotzebue, Alaska wins the 2011 Iditarod. He broke Martin Buser's record by 3 hours, making this the fastest Iditarod ever. Baker is the 1st Inupiat to win the race and is the 1st Alaska Native to win since Jerry Riley won in 1976. I have never seen so many people at the finish line to welcome in the winner. It is a huge day for the Iditarod, Alaska and the Alaska Native community.

Here they come!

It looks like John Baker is going to do it!! He is well ahead of Ramey and fast approaching Nome. He will be the first Native Alaskan to win the Iditarod since the mid '70s. There will be a HUGE crowed to meet him at the finish line.

Aliy is in White Mountain doing her mandatory 8 hour rest. She had one of the fastest times into White Mountain and reports are that she and the team looked GREAT! She will be able to leave at 3:40 pm AST for the last leg into Nome. (Through Safety)

Allen is at Koyuk. He arrived at 7:07 am AST. After switching to the smaller sled, he has picked up speed on the coast.

Doug, Bridgett and Ryne are out in White Mountain to see Aliy. We will see if they will be able to see Allen before heading back to Nome.

Monday, March 14, 2011

The Race Is Getting Serious!

Aliy is on the trail about 24 miles from Elim and about to cross the frozen ocean. She is rocking and rolling with 11 dogs. It will be telling where she is when she arrives at White Mountain.

Allen is in Shaktoolik. He got there at 6 pm AST. As we heard from Bridgett and Ryne, he is seriously racing now too.

The front runners have arrived in White Mountain. John Baker arrived a little under an hour before Ramey Smyth. The Smyth brothers are known for their speed from Safety to Nome. They have the fastest times ever! An hour is not as large of a lead as I would like if I were Baker!

It is a given now that the Iditarod will have a new champion this year. The top 15 mushers have never won, although several have taken the 2nd position. It should be an interesting next 20 or so hours.

A Well-Deserved Rest and Then Off to the Races!

Both Allen and the dogs had a nice warm break in Unalakleet this morning. Fresh blueberry pancakes and eggs were on the menu, and we all made sure not to pass it up. During breakfast, Allen gave us a brief recap of his dog team:

Not only was Allen comfortable in Unalakleet, but the dogs as well! There was hardly any wind this morning, blue skies, and balmy temperatures. Plus the dogs had enough straw to fill a barn!

In case you can't tell, Chacha is under the straw next to JJ!

Four hours later, Allen switched to a lighter sled, dropped any extra gear, and took off for the last 300 miles of the Iditarod.

Allen in Unalakleet

Dad is in, happy, smiling and making us all laugh with his stories! He just snacked his dogs, got them in straw and resting. He ate a large plate of eggs and pancakes-yumm! Now he is down for his rest. More to come......

Allen into Unalakleet

The Aliy Cam: Iditarod 2011 - Nikolai

As the race is getting more exciting by the hour, here is some more video from the trail. This is from around the Nikolai area.

Mushing Near Nikolai

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Welcome to the Coast - Video

Aliy Blows through Unalakleet

Aliy is now on the coast. After resting during the heat of the day about 25 miles out of Unalakleet, she blew the first check point on the coast like a freight train. She checked in, grabbed some gear and headed back out on the trail.

Bridgett, Scotty and Ryne were there to see Aliy go through. Bridgett said, "Aliy just through UNK with 11 very happy and healthy dogs! She was very upbeat, dogs were the BEST I have ever seen them at mile 700! I know I'm bias, but they really looked incredible! Lunging into their harnesses, Quito in single lead out of the checkpoint onto glare ice like it was nothing!" They are trying to put a video up from Unalakleet.

Allen is about 50 miles out of Unalakleet. He dropped one dog in Kaltag. I would think that he will try to run straight to Unc during the cool of the night, but he will do what's best for the dogs. There are many cabins he can rest in on the old portage trail between Kaltag and Unalakleet.

Prison Dog Drop

Sun. March 13

This is Mickey, Aliy's mom, reporting from Nome, Alaska. Doug and I arrived here last night after successfully delivering SP's 8 dropped dogs to our friend Margie's kennel outside of Anchorage. The dogs were so happy to get out of the dog truck, stretch out, have a big meal and lie out in the afternoon sun. The clear, sunny, cool weather persists.

We had another extraordinary Iditarod experience on Friday night! Doug was again asked to drive 'Big Red', the SP dog truck, to the airport to help collect dropped dogs being flown in from McGrath. We and 2 other trucks arrived at Northern Air Cargo at about 8:30 PM. The dogs had flown in large wooden boxes, each divided into 8 or 10 private compartments, in the hold of a large cargo plane. A huge forklift delivered the loaded boxes to the parking lot where trained Iditarod volunteers individually transferred the dogs to the waiting trucks. By about 10:00 PM we three vehicles were loaded down with 69 dogs and heading to the Hiland Mountain - Meadow Creek State Correctional Center, the local minimum security prison, outside of Anchorage.

This prison has long cooperated with the Iditarod to provide temporary care for dropped racing dogs. Since the dogs had arrived in Anchorage so late and still had to be reexamined by the vet staff the decision was made to do the exams at the prison and let the dogs spend the night. Owner representatives could collect the dogs the next day at the prison.

One of the work areas at the prison had been completely transformed into a dog care facility. It was aptly named 'Iditarod Dog Outpost'. When we arrived about 10 prisoners were on hand to unload the dogs, secure them on beds of straw under a shed roof, feed them, clean up after them and begin the process of identifying their needs. Each dog's electronic ID chip was read and compared with the report that came from the trail vets. While the vets began the arduous task of examining 69 dogs, the prisoners continued the cleaning routine, covered each animal with a fleece blanket and delivered lots of TLC.

It was a long and nippy night for all involved. We waited around until our 5 dogs were examined and released. It was close to 1:30 AM by the time we left. The prisoners had just left the area to go to bed, the vets were finishing off their paperwork, the volunteers were ready to truck back to Anchorage and the dogs were secure, well fed and warm. We at SP Kennel want to give a special thanks to the prisoners and prison staff who enthusiastically support the Iditarod dog care program. This is another example of the Iditarod's cooperative strategies designed for the well being of our canine athletes and the various communities involved in the race.

Iditarod Drop Dogs' Home Away from Home

Doug & Dingle at Prison

Scotty Presenting

Our very own Scotty Watkins was part of the presentation of the Wells Fargo Gold Coast Award. As Branch Manager of the Nome Wells Fargo, Scotty presented John Baker of Kotzebue with the trophy and $2500 worth of "yellow Alaskan rocks", aka gold nuggets. If you have the Iditarod Insider, you can watch the presentation.

Confusion with GPS and Standings

Well I just spent a very worried morning, trying to figure out why Allen was still in Eagle Island. My phone wasn't picking up the GPS tracker and I didn't know where he was. He is moving again! Yeah!!!! They still don't have him out of Eagle Island on the standings, but he is over half way to Kaltag.

Aliy is about 30 miles out of Unalakleet, slow and steady. She still has all 11 dogs. Bridgett and Scotty are out in Unalakleet waiting for her to get there. Should get some good information later this evening.

John Baker has made his move. He is about 25 miles ahead of the rest of the pack in Unalakleet and on trails very much like home. If he continues to pull ahead, there will be a party in every village up and down the coast.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

The Aliy Cam: Iditarod Into the Sunset

As Aliy and Allen are mushing through the night towards Kaltag and Eagle Island, I thought this was a great video to put up. Enjoy.

SP Kennel on the Move

All of the SP Kennel dropped dogs are off the trail and in Anchorage. We hope to have them all back at the kennel in the next 2 days. It will be good to get them home.

Ryne, Mickey and Doug are all making there way to Nome. Ryne, after finishing her race at 2 am this morning, is currently at the airport in Fairbanks. Mickey and Doug, after spending the day helping with dropped dogs, are at the airport in Anchorage. Bridgett and Scotty are heading out to Unalakleet this afternoon from their home in Nome. SP Kennel is moving and shaking.

Aliy and the red team are running with 11 dogs. She has dropped Bonita, Snickers, Tug, Rose and Butterscotch. Allen and the black team have dropped Chica, Oddball and Dingle. They are all eating well and very comfortable at a friend's kennel in Knik.

A Call from Allen / Aliy's 8 Hour Stop

Aliy is currently just out of Eagle Island. That should be her 8 hour mandatory rest. We will have to wait to see if she dropped any dogs. There hasn't been an update from Eagle Island since 1:22 pm. Aliy was interviewed on KNOM. Very cool. Here's the link.

Allen is through Grayling with all 13 dogs and on his was to Eagle Island. He talked to Bridgett from Anvik twice this morning. I talked to her this afternoon. She had tried to check in earlier, but the Hospital in Nome has been very busy today. She has been saving lives!

Bridgett reported that Allen sounded wonderful, excited and fresh. She joked that he sounded better than he did at the start. He kept saying over and over. "I'm the slowest team on the trail." We know that's not true, but the heat of the day has been effecting his team. He is running much smoother and fasted at night. He hasn't stopped racing though. He kept asking where people were and whether they had done their 8 hour rest yet. Always ready to go!

The trail is very hard and set up, but snow is melting during the heat of the day. He did run into 2 ft of overflow going into Iditarod. He had to stand on the seat on his sled to keep from getting wet. Cha Cha, who usually hates overflow, charged right in and dragged the team through. Cha Cha and JJ have been in the lead for the last 100 plus miles. Mother and son, rocking the lead! There is a bit of a breeze on the river right now, so maybe it is cooling the dogs off a bit.

Allen's biggest challenge right now is not the trail or the heat though. It's Scruggs. Every time he stops the team, even if it is just for a minute, Scruggs is taking off his booties. He takes them off. Allen puts them back on. Scruggs takes them off. Allen puts them back on. Maybe Scruggs thinks it a game!

The Aliy Cam: Iditarod Rainy Pass

Dog Drop Duty

This is Mickey, Aliy's mom, reporting from Anchorage. I returned from the remote Alaska bush yesterday evening to be immediately thrown into the intensity of Iditarod Dog Drop activities here in town.

The Iditarod Dog Drop coordinator, and several of her volunteers, asked Doug to help pick up a load of dogs that were being flown to Anchorage from McGrath. The SP Kennel Ford F-350, 20 box, diesel dog truck was the main reason Doug was so popular. Nevertheless, he was eager to help with these race logistics.

At about 7:30 PM, Doug and I jumped in the SP truck and met 2 other dog trucks and a gaggle of volunteers at the cargo facility of Penair. It was pretty much dark by the time a Cessna 208 Caravan aircraft taxied to the ramp behind a security gate. This airplane is a single engine turboprop built for short hauls of both cargo and passengers. It typically operates with a single crew and can be configured to seat 9 to 12 passengers. Tonight the aircraft interior was a single cargo hold, probably about 9' by 15', lined with tarps, kraft paper and old carpeting.

As the pilot secured the aircraft we gathered the 3 dog trucks near the aft, starboard door. All volunteers gathered tightly around the plane exit. We were there to grab any bolting dropped dogs.

The pilot opened the door from inside the aircraft. The sight was amazing!! Forty-two dogs filled the cargo hold, like a heard of fuzzy headed cattle. They stared out at us perked up their ears and wagged their tails. Some started to whine or talk. They were anticipating ear scratches and belly rubs.

The dogs on this flight were each secured to some portion of the plane interior by a 12" to 16" wire neckline. They had flown in close quarters for about 45 minutes to get here from McGrath. The pilot methodically unclipped each dog and passed him/her out the door to a waiting volunteer who deposited the animal into a private dog box in one of the trucks. The dogs were calm and cooperative but pretty eager to disembark. It took us about 20 minutes to get them all settled in the vehicles. I was amazed to notice only 2 piles of poop or vomit on the plane floor. The pilot simply rolled up the paper, disposed of the trash and was ready for the next run today.

Thirteen of the dogs on the plane were Mitch Seavey's withdrawn team. They went right back to their kennel. The other 29 were transported back to the Millenium Hotel where they were fed, walked and examined by veterinarians before they were released to go home. Two SP dogs, Rose and Tug, traveled on that plane. Tug still has a bit of a sore shoulder and Rose's foot is tender. They are eating, drinking and sleeping. In general they tolerated the plane ride well.

And guess what??? Doug has been recruited again tonight. He and that F-350 did a good job. Seventy dogs are expected in from McGrath. I'll probably have another story tomorrow.

Tug and Doug at Clarion

Years ago I asked a pilot what he did if the dogs started fighting on a flight. He said, "Dogs don't fight at Zero G's." That say's it all! - Kaz

Friday, March 11, 2011

The Aliy Cam: Iditarod Alaska Range

Video from the heart of the Alaska Range.

On the Yukon River

Aliy has just gone through Grayling on her way to Eagle Island. She left Anvik will all 11 dogs. As of this point, the standings aren't showing her in Grayling, so we don't know if she dropped any dogs there. We have heard that the dog she dropped in Iditarod yesterday was Butterscotch, but we don't know for sure.

If I were to guess, I would say that she will rest on the trail to Eagle Island and go through E.I. check point. Eagle Island is a set of tents and pits carved out of the snow and ice in the middle of the Yukon River. There is not, and has never been a town or camp at this spot. There are few amenities there that would entice a musher to stay.

Allen is currently doing his 8 hour mandatory rest at Shageluk. He arrived there at 3:50 pm, so he will be back on the trail at 11:50 pm. He is having a wonderful race!

Mushers on the Trail

Mushing is an odd sport. Your closes rival can also be your best friend and certainly your ally. As we saw earlier on the Yukon Quest, mushers work together to over come the obstacles that nature throws at them. Although they may want to beat the "other guy", they would never leave them in a dangerous situation to fend for themselves. Of course, everyone's view on what a "dangerous situation" is different!

There are also times during the race when it is easier and safer to work together with another musher, breaking trail for instance. One team will take the lead and then the other team will switch out for the lead, rotating back and forth. It keeps both teams from getting exhausted. At any given time, mushers will be working together. This breeds a camaraderie unequalled in any other sport.

The Cafe at the Takotna Community Center.

Groups of mushers ate piles of food while they discussed trail conditions, laughed at mishaps and joked with each other. Most of them were goofy from lack of sleep. A big meal, a few laughs and they were off to the bunkhouse to snooze.

Here Aliy and Dee Dee Jonrowe share a sleepy smile.

Aliy & Dee Dee in Takotna

Aliy Cam: Iditarod Happy River Steps

Video from the Aliy Cam

A New Day on the Trail

Aliy rested between Iditarod and Shageluk last night and is now on the move again. She dropped another dog when she went through Iditarod last night. Aliy is running with 11 dogs now.

Allen is having an excellent run. He left Iditarod this morning at 6:49 am with all 13 dogs.

The kennel is full of action right now. Doug and Mickey helped move around 52 dogs in Anchorage last night. A large group came back from McGrath and needed to be moved to the Millenium so the vet staff could examine them. Rose and Tug arrived back in Anchorage with this group.

Rose & Doug in Anchorage

Ryne and the dogs at the kennel are getting ready for the Chatinika 100. The race begins this after noon and run right down the trail next to the kennel. Fun!! She should finish about 4 am.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

The Aliy Cam: Iditarod Day 1

As I am making this last post of the day, Aliy just went through Iditarod. They are not showing her out yet on the standings, but she is out on the GPS. I am sure Aliy will run as much as she can tonight, out of the heat of the day. Allen is approaching Iditarod. Looks like he had a great run.

As I said earlier today, Mickey brought a photo card back with her from McGrath. This is the first footage from the 2011 Aliy Cam. Enjoy.

Aliy Talks about Dog Dynamics

A conversation Aliy had in Takotna with a pilot friend of ours, Mike Litzen.

My Impressions of Bush Alaska

Mickey filed this report as she was waiting for her flight back to Anchorage. I hope to get the card from the "Aliy Cam" tonight or tomorrow. Will get video up as soon as possible.

Waiting for my delayed flight from McGrath to Anchorage gave me an opportunity to think. My time in McGrath, Nikolai and Takotna is my first experience in real bush Alaska. McGrath is the area hub and, as I explained earlier, has about 350 residents. Nikolai, about 25 minutes east in a 6 seat air taxi, is a native village of about 70 full time residents. The plowed airstrip, where we landed on skis, is a short walk to the village center, anchored by a modern school building. Here the mushers were treated to home made food and rested on wrestling mats in the gym or in closets and classrooms behind closed doors. I was amazed to see some mushers crashed about 20 feet from where everyone ate spaghetti, obviously tired enough to block out noises. Some mushers slept in the sun with their dogs.

A few hundred feet toward the river from the school is the checkpoint. It is a 12 x 12 pole tent with buckets and cut logs strewn about for seats. It overlooks the Iditarod Trail winding along the river. A plowed field on the bank provides a broad and flat place for the dog teams to rest. When I arrived there were about 15 teams basking in the sun and many of Takotna's citizens working checkpoint duties. When a team appears on the river, the checkers and other volunteers form a welcoming committee on the bank.
This was filed by Mickey this morning as she waited for her plane back to Anchorage.

What gracious, hardworking folks! When they discovered I was Aliy's mom, I was treated like royalty. I got food, use of a school computer and an offer to spend the night. A young man named Damien ran the checkpoint diligently while I was there. It appeared to me that the village loves their role of checkpoint. And the mushers are so grateful for the hospitality and a chance to rest.

Normal life activities in the bush are very different than many of our 'lower 48' lives. The family car is a snowmobile, many times with a hauling sled attached. Food, fuel and supplies are flown in by small plane. Water is often from a hole in the 4 foot thick river ice, hauled home by snowmobile. In a few weeks families begin serious ice fishing to supplement the larder.

I know that one checkpoint is voted 'checkpoint of the year' by the mushers after each Iditarod. If all the checkpoint villages are as gracious as Nikolai, it will be so difficult to choose the best!!

Report from Allen in Takotna

Bridgett Talked to Allen from Takotna early this morning. This is what she sent to me about that conversation.

"So, I talked to dad at 0300. He sounded refreshed, but still a little tired. He said it was hard to get to a phone because everyone was trying to use it and he or Aliy didn't want to wait to call when they could be sleeping. He spoke of Aliy's team. He said they had just left and were VERY peppy! Even barking! That's huge for our team! He was not sure as to her plan for running over to Iditarod. He said that her team was eating amazingly. All of them! He also said that she was dropping Rose in Tak for a sore swollen shoulder. The swelling would not go down until she quit running. Her other "question mark" was Tug. She was going to leave with her and see if she could work through her issues and if not, she would drop her in Ophir. No real injury to note, just something going on for the last 100 miles that Aliy can't pinpoint. And as I write this I see she dropped a dog in Ophir-so I'm sure it was her. Dad said, after those two dogs, she has a really rock solid core! So we shall see. If you want my guess I believe she will stop at Don's cabin, halfway, and then go onto Iditarod. But if she is going to start pushing a little, she will do it in one! Those that are in it to win it, will more than likely run this section in one run. I hope her team is able. If not, they will have more rest and she can "save" that push until the river or coast.

Aliy, Biscuit & Willie in Takotna

Dad's team-

He was very pleased. Strong, steady and slow. Those were the words he repetitively used to describe them. I asked him if he had any difficulties up to this point and he said no....The steps were fine, gorge no problem, burn-ok. But then again, let's remember what he just went through 3 weeks ago! Anything will be "easy" compared to that! He said the camera crew was just setting up as he went through the steps. He reported the weather as, "exceptionally good for the mushers, but a little too warm during the day for the dogs." He said he hasn't been traveling with anyone at this time and he's kind of flip flopping around. Ok now on to dogs. His team is eating "pretty well"! The only one not eating is Stormy. She's not even eating many snacks, but he thinks that maybe after the 24 she might get her appetite back. Leaders for him thus far, JJ the whole way and Dingle and Stormy. He is taking Dingle out of lead because he has sore wrists and is going to give him a break. Spicy has had a tricept for most of the way that he keeps messaging and she is working out of it each time. Those were his only two "worries". He said Ranger is eating everything! I asked who his all stars were,......can you guess.......
Cha, Bullet, and JJ! He said he might put Cha in lead on the next run. I asked how she was and he said great, her normal self, no problems. His plan is to do the run to Iditarod in 2 runs, camp mid-day. He was going to take a short nap and then get ready to go."

Just an Idea

Here's a great link that gives you an idea of the trail.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Aliy Zirkle Interview in Takotna

Aliy and Allen Resting Well in Takotna

Both Aliy and Allen are resting in Takotna with their teams for their 24 hour mandatory rest. Mickey was out and visited with them for several hours this afternoon. Both were in very good spirits and getting well needed rest.

Aliy was very focused but happy with her run so far. Our guesses were wrong. She had dropped Snickers for a swollen foot in Nikolai. She is planning to drop Rose in Takotna for a wrist before she leaves tonight and Tug is still a question mark. If she leaves with 12 dogs, then she dropped them both. We have an interview with her that will be up shortly.

Allen is well. His finger is feeling good. He is eating Takotna out of food and is very tired, but happy and chatting with everyone in the check point. He is very pleased with his team and is planning to leave with all dogs.

Photo by Cheri Cubbison

Photo by Cheri Cubbison

Here are links to a few good photos.

Images from the Trail » The Story of The Last Great Race in Pictures

Report from the Trail - Takotna

I just received this from Mickey. I know it is a bit late, but here it is.

I'm here. Aliy and Allen are asleep in the bunkhouse. Both teams are stretched out in the sun on beds of straw. Mushers, volunteers and fans gather at the checkpoint to eat and chat.

I just had a conversation with musher Justin Savidis. He told the group surrounding him at our table about the experience of hallucinations on the trail. As he tried to stay alert on the trail his dogs transformed into different colors and shapes. Then he saw buildings and trucks along the trail. A true 1960's experience. He knew that wasn't real but had tough time shaking the visions. At this point Justin has had about 3 hours sleep during the race. We just watched him stumble into the bunkhouse. Sleep well.

Report from the Trail - McGrath

This is Mickey, Aliy's Mom, reporting from McGrath Alaska. I had the opportunity to see Aliy come through this checkpoint at 10:48 pm last night. I walked to the checkpoint from the apartment where I am staying with Mike Litzen ( our friend and bush pilot) and his family. The air was cold and clear....stars and moon almost touchable.

Aliy appeared off the river first as a bobbing headlamp. The light slowly turned into a peppy dog team pulling a sled. The dogs obviously loved the colder temps.

Aliy simply stopped to check in, say hello to the Cox men who run the checkpoint, give me a kiss and hug, and head back onto the trail. She sported a big smile and was focused on getting to Takotna, about 20 miles down the trail.

I didn't see Allen come through McGrath but I am on my way to Takotna now. There I plan to catch up with both our mushers, doing their 24s.

Stay tuned.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Allen Moore - Nikolai Interview

Report From the The Trail - Nikolai

Mickey was out in Nikolai today and talked to both Aliy and Allen. We will have the interviews with them both up as they come in from McGrath.

As I write this, Aliy is being shown out of Nikolai with 14 dogs. However, the tracker is showing her through McGrath. We know she had to drop Bonita for a wrist in Rohn, but we don't know who she dropped in Nikolai. Mickey had to leave before Aliy had made that decision. We believe it is either Rose, who has been suffering with a wrist injury, or Tug. Aliy was in good spirits in Nikolai, though clearly upset she had to drop Bonita. The trails are very hard and fast. That tends to aggravate wrist and shoulders as well as musher's backs.

Aliy Arriving Nikolai

Aliy Changing Her Runner Plastics in Nikolai

Allen was out of Nikolai at mile 264 with 14 dogs. He had to drop Oddball for a shoulder injury. Although he was tired, he was pleased with his dogs and his run. He was eating a big plate of spaghetti when Mickey last talked to him.

Allen Arriving At Nikolai

Mickey Heading Out on Trail

This is Mickey, Aliy's Mom, reporting from the Iditarod Trail. It is Tuesday at 9:30 am and I just arrived in McGrath. The trip from Anchorage was spectacular. We took off over the Cook Inlet heading west in a 30 seater turbo-prop. The tidal plains gave way to the foothills which quickly transformed into the spectacular Alaska Mountain Range. What a complex, vast and rugged swath of land! Amazing that our mushers have made it through this wilderness to these interior lands which are drained the Kuskokwim River. The Kuskokwim winds southwest past Bethel to the sea. McGrath is a village of 350 souls cradled in a frozen U turn of the river.

My plane was full of Iditarod volunteers and spectators. The Iditarod Race Marshall and several members of the Board of Directors were aboard. The McGrath checkpoint Is just about ready for the first mushers to arrive, probably this afternoon or evening.

I'm off to catch the air taxi to Nikolai. Hoping to see both Aliy and Allen there. Stay tuned for news from the trail.

Mark Nordman, Iditarod Race Marshall, and Stan Hooley, Iditarod Board of Directors, depart Anchorage for McGrath

Aliy and Allen Through Rohn

Aliy is through Rohn with 15 dogs. She is currently about 20 miles outside of Nikolai.

Allen is out of Rohn with 15 dogs as well. He is currently about 45 miles outside of Nikolai.

Aliy and Allen and the dogs have been featured in many of the Iditarod Insider videos as well as many articles. Here are some links to some of the articles and photos.

Iditarod 2011 Aliy Zirkle - Willow Restart

Iditarod Start Allen Moore - Willow Restart

Congratulations Boondocks!

In just her first season of racing, little Boondocks has been making a name for herself by racing in the Sheep Mountain, Copper Basin, Yukon Quest, and now Iditarod…and she’s only two years old! However, she’s not only receiving human recognition, but she has canine fans as well. Kotzee from Kansas has decided to sponsor Boondocks’ racing season. Boondocks wishes she could see Kotzee at the Iditarod start but thinks that Kotzee’s person Yo-Lynn will be a good replacement!

Thanks to Kotzee from Kansas for sponsoring Boondocks’ racing season!

Circle City Checkpoint

SP Kennel dog sponsorship is one of our most popular programs. Our dog sponsors are a big part of the SP K team. If you'd like more information about the program, check out How to be a Dog Sponsor.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Iditarod Day Two

As the second day of the Iditarod 2011 comes to a close, both the Red Team and the Black Team are doing well. Aliy is into Rohn with all 16 dogs. Her dogs are steady and strong. They are not the speed demons that are on some of the other teams, but they will not lose as much speed as they go along either. She is jumping from 8th to 20th depending on her run - rest schedule, but that means little at this point. She is ahead of her plan.

Allen is out of Rainy Pass with 15 dogs. He had to drop Chica and she is already back with our handling crew in Anchorage. Like Aliy, he is running to his schedule and doing very well.

Mickey will be out in Nikolai and McGrath tomorrow and we should get some good updates on the dogs and mushers. These photos are of Aliy going through Yentna yesterday. They are by Phillip Walters.

By Phillip Walters

By Phillip Walters

By Phillip Walters

First Dropped Dog In

Allen dropped Chica in Finger Lake this morning. The excellent weather made for an easy transfer back to Anchorage. Doug and Mickey Zirkle picked her up this afternoon after a short flight in a Cessna 180.

Chica had a wrist injury on the Yukon Quest. It had almost completely healed but it looks like she hit a hole and injured it again. When they picked her up, Chica has a slightly swollen left wrist. All her vital signs are normal and her appetite is good. She will remain on anti inflammatory meds for a few days.

Doug picks up Chica from the Dog Drop volunteers behind the Millenium Hotel in Anchorage. Jennifer, Chica, Kathleen and Doug.

The Anchorage Dog Drop vets and volunteers are a dedicated crew. SP Kennel thanks them all for putting the health of our racing dogs first.

Aliy & Allen Interviews

Aliy is through Finger Lake and on her way to Rainy Pass. Allen is currently in Finger Lake. Aliy's schedule has her resting outside of check points for this first part.

There have been several articles and interviews that Aliy and Allen did before the start. Here are a few to look over.

Fairbanks Daily News-Miner - Interior Alaska sends 16 mushers to the Iditarod
Fairbanks News-Miner

Mushers Looking Forward to Scenery, Time With the Dogs

Racers Discuss the Challenges of the Trail

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Aliy Zirkle's Ceremonial Start

Aliy had a camera from Alaska Public Radio Network on her sled for the ceremonial start. Here is the video from it.

Video by Josh Edge, APRN – Anchorage

Final Black Team Roster

The Black Team had a couple of substitutions: Dingle in for Moonpie and Malibu in for Lester. Both Dingle and Malibu ran the Yukon Quest with Allen and are 100%. Moonpie and Lester are healthy as well, but Dingle and Malibu's extra experience gave them an edge in making the team. Today, Allen left with siblings JJ and Stormy leading the way! Good luck!!!