Aliy Zirkle — a star hammer thrower at Penn during the genesis of the event for women in the early 1990s — is in the right place for her profession. After all, if you carry the title of “dog musher” you might as well live in the dog-mushing capital of Two Rivers, Alaska.
Born in New Hampshire, Zirkle was making a strong bid this year to become the first woman since the late Susan Butcher in 1990 to win the Iditarod, but she came up just short this week, finishing second to 25-year-old Dallas Seavey.
Zirkle — who earned biology and anthropology degrees from Penn — initially went to Alaska while in college, taking a break from his studies to live in a tent on the Alaskan Peninsula while working for the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. When she graduated from Penn, she spent five months hiking the Appalachian Trail before returning to Alaska in 1993 at a full-time employee of the Fish & Wildlife Department.
On Sunday, the Associated Press reported:
Aliy Zirkle is maintaining her lead in the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race.
The 41-year-old musher from Two Rivers and her team of 12 dogs were greeted by fans as they pulled into Unalakleet (YUN’-uh-la-kleet) at 7:28 a.m. Alaska time Sunday.
For being first to Alaska’s western coast, she wins a gold cup and $2,500 in gold nuggets.
She didn’t hold the lead, but she’ll always have the nuggets!