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Zirkle profile: Two Rivers musher has rep for doting on her dogs

Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News

ALIY ZIRKLE

Age: 41

Hometown: Two Rivers

Career highlight: 2000 Yukon Quest champion

Born in New Hampshire, raised in St. Louis and Puerto Rico and educated at the University of Pennsylvania, where she earned degrees in biology and anthropology, Aliy Zirkle found her calling when she came to Alaska at age 20.

She began running dogs in Bettles, north of the Arctic Circle, where she had a six-dog team. Her first competition was a small event in a Koyukuk River village, and the experience hooked her on racing.

When she moved to Two Rivers, she met and married Allen Moore, and together they operate SP Kennels.

Cheerful and personable on the trail, Zirkle dotes on her dogs at checkpoints. She was as happy to win last year's Leonhard Seppala Humanitarian Award for dog care as she was with her career-best 11th- place finish.

Zirkle was the first woman to win the Yukon Quest, a 1,000-mile race that many mushers consider more difficult than the Iditarod.