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Aliy Zirkle announces plan to retire after 2021 Iditarod

Musher Aliy Zirkle creates Husky Homeroom, a weekly virtual field trip for students and educators
Musher Aliy Zirkle creates Husky Homeroom, a weekly virtual field trip for students and educators(none)
Published: Feb. 11, 2021 at 7:47 PM AKST
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Aliy Zirkle announced on her SP Kennel website that she will retire from competitive sled dog racing after the 2021 Iditarod.

The Two Rivers musher had an impressive mushing career finishing runner up in the Iditarod three times in a row and becoming the first woman to win the Yukon Quest sled dog race.

Zirkle was born and raised in New Hampshire and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania before coming to Alaska, according to her Iditarod biography.

“I don’t want you to think that I’m just up and quitting,” Zirkle wrote in her retirement letter. “I have always raced the Iditarod to win. While the Last Great Race has been a spectacular adventure for me, it has also been physically and mentally demanding: every year, every winter, every day, every mile. And if I’m being honest, at times, I have been challenged to my very core. I know that in the not so distant future, I will not be able to give it my 100%. So, I am retiring before I have to retire.”

Zirkle wrote that she decided to publish the letter announcing her retirement after receiving encouragement from the person who first received the letter.

“My post-Iditarod future is somewhat undecided,” Zirkle wrote. “I love Alaska and will continue to explore our great state. Of course, my husband, Allen, and I will together decide what our next life adventure will be.”

She went on to add that her huskies have been with her every step of the way throughout her mushing career, and plans on taking care of them for the rest of her life.

The 2021 Iditarod gets underway on March 7 at Deshka Landing.

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