Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Statement From Aliy Zirkle

As posted on the Iditarod website this evening.

Thank you all for the kindness and support shown to me and my team after the events on the trail between Mile 612 and 629 of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, in the early morning of Saturday March 12, 2016

I have been mushing the trails of Alaska for over 20 years and lived in the Yukon-Koyokuk community. Not once have I felt in real danger from another human being. I am experienced with sharing the trails with snowmachiners and other users, ensuring that I do everything I can to be seen and to keep my dog team safe. It is on these trails with my dogs that I feel most comfortable and confident. That changed on the morning of March 12.

Over the course of almost two hours one man, by using his snowmachine, made prolonged, aggressive and what I believe to be deliberate threats to me and my team. For two hours, I felt like a hostage and I sincerely believe that our lives were in danger. I was terrified. Had it not been for my defensive reactions, we could have been maimed or killed.

The Iditarod race judge at the checkpoint, the veterinarians, others associated with the race and many people from the village of Nulato were extremely supportive and understanding after learning the seriousness of the events on the river. They provided me with practical and moral support and I would not have continued the race without their insistence and encouragement. I thank them all very much for what they did that night.

I am angry with only one man. One of the most important aspects of racing the Iditarod to me, is the interaction with wonderful Alaskans across our state. I enjoy visiting all the villages along the trail and feel loved and supported during the Iditarod race and beyond.

Clyde, my wheel dog who was hit by the snowmachine during the assault, was treated by the veterinarians at the checkpoint and could no longer continue in the race, but is now in the process of being reunited with our support team in Nome. The rest of my dog team is healthy and have sustained no injuries due to this assault.

I also have no injuries. However, I am very sad and angry. I am thankful for all the overwhelming support from the public. I have not lost my faith in humanity.

This is not a detailed account of what happened that night but this is all I am prepared to make public. Those close to me know the full story, as does the Alaska State Trooper to whom I gave my statement. The events of the night were extremely distressing to me and I do not wish to make any further public statement on the matter.

69 comments:

Unknown said...

You are an incredible woman, musher, lover and caretaker of your dogs. It's amazing you continued and even came in 3rd after all you and your team went through on the trail. That just shows the trust and love they have in you! You all are champions and we are so proud of you.
Lenny Van Gundy

Barnstormer said...

Aliy, I am so sorry that this happened to you and the dogs. How horrifying that must have been to face that crazy man for those hours, not knowing if you or the team would survive. I am glad you did, and that your dog is on the mend. I feel that you and your husband are some of the finest Dog People I know. Such good representatives of our sport. Thank you for your honesty, integrity, good sportsmanship and most of all, your loving care of the dogs.

Susan Scofield, President, Northwest Sled Dog Association and K9scootersNW, Stargazer Siberians, Chehalis, WA

susan smith said...

Aliy, you owe no one an explanation other than the one you choose to give. The fact that you were able to continue speaks volumes as to your training, your strength, and most of all your ability to overcome adversity. Thank you for your living statement by finishing this race in 3rd place with a smile on your face.

Susan

Anonymous said...

just sending huge big hugs to you, love the one Allen gave you when he arrived in Nome, says it all.
Maureen from Comox

patricia lewis said...

Wishing you peace, healing and continued blessings.

Susanne Wolthers Nielsen said...

i was shocked at what happened. There is so much human cruelty ignorance and spite in this world that even the iditarod does not go free. It may sound ridiculous but I sent this culprit a pmon his facebook profile suggesting that he seek professional help and that he totally stays away from any driving, how innocents suffer for no reason at all other than his drunkenness. I am glad that you are all safe but saddened by the death of Jeff Kings wonderful dog.

A-town's Becky said...

Aliy,
I'm so sorry you met that very real ugly part of humanity.
:-/
You are such a beautiful and loving person, who gives joy to so many.
:-)
Believe me, we were and still are extremely angry too, that someone would try to harm you.

You got it right in the statement. Your quick instincts to fight for your life and your team saved you and them.

Some day, I may tell you more about what I know about people.
You, your love, your willingness to share your work, passion and joy with us, helps many of us overcome exactly that ugly problem.

THANK YOU Aliy!
I sincerely wish I could do the same for you.
You are so LOVED and appreciated.

J elliott said...

As you're aware, you will continue to get huge support and tons of advise on the handling of this terrorizing attack.

But you are the one who has to deal with it at your own pace - in your own way. No one else can do this.

There are many things I would like to say - and I am qualified through similar experience - but stop here.

Being a champion musher us tough enough - being the additional ninja heroine on top - is an enormous additional, unexpected burden.

Time will bring better perspective; it will become fun & challenging again.

Leigh-Anne van der Veen said...

As a supporter who watches the Iditarod from the Southern Hemisphere, I have so much respect for your ability to continue with the race. My children and I tracked your progress, almost willing you from checkpoint to checkpoint. It didn't matter to us who won. It mattered that you got to the end. We live in a country, in which such violations and violence are a common daily occurance. As a result of your ability to keep on going after such intense trauma to you and your dogs, we are able to learn by example, and keep on going in the face of our own personal traumas and struggles. We salute you. Warm African hugs.

Kristi Lonheim said...

And you shouldn't have to say anything else publically. I was in complete shock, and had nightmares, and I live in Saudi Arabia. May you still find peace on the trail and with your dogs.

Tom Peek said...

This idiot endangered the lives of not only the dogs but also Aliy and Jeff. I truly think he should be charged with attempted murder. If he had come just a bit closer the tragedy would have been far far worse than it was. Being blacked out drunk is no excuse.

Nessmuk said...

The shock of this violent incident reverberated through us all. I know your extended Fan Family is large...and we are pround to be a part of that Fan base! Its going to take time to heal from this...through the process know you are deeply loved by SO many people....and we are so very proud of your accomplishment this year...you continue to be an inspiration...now more than ever!!

Be Well,

Mary Beth and Elizabeth

Dawn from Maine said...

Aliy, you're an amazing person. I'm sad that someone hurt you and terrorized you. You were able to keep 13 dogs together and focused---and I believe prayer and the dogs kept you together to finish. After some time, I foresee you turning this tragic event into something good. You already have. I'm praying for you--peace and more peace. <3

Charlene said...

Once again, an example of true class.

Lisa & Charlene
Erie PA

Anonymous said...

We are so sorry you and your dear dogs had to endure the events that occurred, Aliy. The whole world is remarking on your strength and endurance. Our children admire and learn from you., in both the good and the bad. For sure you are never alone.

MG said...

Hugs and prayers for you, Allen and the entire SP Kennel Team.

Amy said...

Thank you for sharing. We will continue to hold you and your team in our thoughts and prayers. HUGS!

Mmaton said...

Aily you are awesome and brave to protect yourself and your beautiful team. Can't imagine how terrifying it must have been for you but everyone is so damm pleased you are ok and your team

Lourdes, VT said...

Dear Aliy, like I said in my reply email to you on the Iditarod website, you and your precious dogs once again, shine with a light that is so unique and wonderful and so, so very bright!!!
I'm so sorry you had to see and experience the abject side oh the human soul, but again, you came out of it with courage and light!
And that is one of the many reasons I admire you so much!!!
Love and congratulations to you and the beautiful pups!!!

Mmaton said...

Aily you are awesome and brave to protect you and your beautiful team can't imagine what it was like being out there for that time with that person, you made it home with your team such inspiration and determination xx

Eileen Maclean said...

Evil exists in this world, but love can over-power.

Pamela from Colorado said...

Aliy, you and your team are my inspiration and heroes.

Centavo said...

Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us. I have been concerned with how this incident affected you and your team. I am relieved you have not allowed this event to define you and the love you have for mushing. Continued prayers for healing and peace.

Musherfan44 said...

Such a terrifying thing to happen. You're an amazing musher who inspires many to do there best and push their hardest, the way you and you're team pushed through this tragic accident just shows how strong you are. You're time on the trail will soon come a blast and major enjoyment for you and your dogs! Wishing you the best recovery of the this!
~ Molly

Carrie Hopkins, Windsor, CT said...

Aliy, we love you and support you every step of the way. Know that we're here to hold your hands and surround you with love, comfort and peace. You are an incredible and strong woman. Let our love hold you up while you heal; we're all there with you. I'm very happy to hear that Clyde is on his way to Nome to join his teammates. What a welcome he will receive! Special love and wet kisses to Clyde too! Get some rest and get ready for some fun on Sunday.

Steve Renner said...

Aliy, you are an inspiration. We met you at an event in NH a couple of years ago and my 13 year old musher, Lara, follows you in all of your races. You have lived through one of my worst nightmares. Every time I watch Lara leave the start line, I have to supress the anxiety of all that could happen to her and her dogs on the trail. In 2014, her sled was clipped by a snowmachine headon while flying around a blind curve at over 40mph. The driver never stopped or slowed down. We cannot imagine the terror you felt. You are brave and strong and a role model for all mushers. Best wishes to you and your team as you work through the healing process.

Margaret said...

Thank you Aliy for being who you are. You are an inspiration.

Defending your family against this attack was heroics of the first order.

You are my champion.

Steve Parker said...

Aliy, you and your team are truly heroes/heroines!! Your courage and tenacity are incredible; thanks for dusting yourselves off and getting back on the trail. We cheered you all the way to the finish and a well earned rest for all.

Holly Freeman said...

We are glad Clyde is recovering. The non physical injuries that you have endured in the SP family will need their own time to heal from. The fact that these events happened in the midst of the iconic Iditarod Race with thousands watching adds to the complexity. Such a heinous personal trauma happening so publically. AWFUL!

Aliy, you (and your team) have been gritty and exceptional in the midst of incredibly mind boggling circumstances. You are a tender warrior whose strength sustained you in the moment. This core will carry you in the future.

The Freeman's send you resilience and love as you move forward.

Melissa Krahmer said...

Aliy, it's easy for people to tell you to stay strong and hang in there when they have never experience the terror you felt. But you and the team truly showed your strength and courage by continuing and excelling in the race.
I do think that it is only due to your legions of prayer warriors that you and the dogs escaped serious injury and had the fortitude to continue.
This will take time to absorb and work through. Please know you have love and support from all over the world and beyond...

Rose Lewis said...

Wishing you wellness and an ever increasing sense of peace and equilibrium as you process this harrowing experience. Wishing the same for your lovely canine kin. What a heroine you are to do all you did to protect those wonderful creatures. If you haven't read Jennifer Arnold's Through a Dog's Eyes, I highly recommend it especially after what you have endured. You already know how awesome and therapeutic dogs are. Let them and us wrap you up in the healing powers of love. And thank you for being you. Your example has helped me deal with my own thing.

Stormy Lntz said...

God bless you,Aliy,your team and all mushers!

Jeanne Harper - Falmouth, MA said...

You are such a great inspiration Aliy! And your fans all over this country and world are sending you an enormous collective hug! One of the things that stands out about you is your LOVE. And I hope and believe, with a little time, this love that appears to be the burning core of who you are, will heal this primal hurt and fear you've been clobbered with.

I have to say, watching the various interviews with mushers, most of you appear to be kind, funny, charming, humble, considerate and all-around likable. And Aily - you are right at the top! Being the target of random violence is so completely disturbing...like a big rock dropped on a still pond - the waves rippling out. But the waves will eventually dissipate and the water will be still again. You are still you: utterly inspiring just as you are. (And because you are completely bad-ass!!)

PS I would happily wear a shirt that says the quote from someone else on your page: "Superman wears Aliy Zirkle pajamas!"

Anonymous said...

What a classy comment---just what I would expect from you or anyone from your support team. You're an inspiration, Aliy, and I hope eventually the events of that day are only a distant memory. You and your dogs ran an incredible race---congratulations on your success!

morrowsl said...

Always the most positive and eloquent ambassador of sled dog racing, Iditarod, and Alaska. I'm very grateful you and the team will soldier on.

TC said...

Aliy,

Unfortunately there is evil in this world and it crossed your path. Most people don't experience it as personally as you have. When it does the true character of a person comes out. You are not a victim but a champion! And yes I do see that you are changed forever as a result. You are so wise.

Please be very good to yourself.

I tip my hat to you!

Teresa Clark
Police Sergeant, Ret after 30 years
Fan of Schmoe, Mismo, Chena and of course ALIY!

Anonymous said...

Aily, Congratulations for being such a Super person. We all have been so concerned about your safety and do thank you for letting us know a little bit of what went on out there with the maniac. So glad you finished and you are a blessing to all. Thank You for your post.

Anonymous said...

Aliy,
I am sorry you and Jeff had to experience this. I am grateful to the people who helped you move on to not only finish the race but in 3rd place. What an amazing achievement to be able to pull it together to accomplish this feat. You said that the people of Alaska came through to encourage and cheer you on. Well, it is evident from the people who have posted on your blog that there are people all over the United States and the world who also are behind you. I pray that you will be able to heal from this experience.

Thank you for the public statement. I imagine it was hard to be asked the same questions repeatedly. It was a very classy statement.

Take care and may you find comfort and healing from your family, your dogs, your friends, and from the Lord.

Karen

Cindy Eckhoff said...

Sending you healing light and energy.
Love from Beemer & Viper

Kathy said...

Aliy,
You are a true Champion in my eyes. An inspiration to the young
as well as older people in this world. You have dealt with this
event elegantly. I wish you, Allen and the entire SP Crew prayers
and support. Such a strong person you are Aliy!!!! So glad to hear
Clyde is with you in Nome. He deserves to be there with the rest
of his team mates. Congratulations! We your fans are with you!!!

Bill Boyd said...

Aliy:

The community of Merrimack, NH is behind you and your dogs. We offer our thoughts and prayers for healing to you, Clyde and the rest of the SPK Dogs.

Bill Boyd

#ZirkleStrong #IStandWithAliyZirkleAndTheDogsOfTheSPKennel

Pat said...

Using the excuse that "I was drunk " is NO excuse. Unfortunately the drunk always seems to be injured free.I would suggest that you carry a gun and shoot the drunk or anyone else who is a threat to you or your dogs.You have every right to defend yourself and your dogs, family or whatever from complete idiots. I am glad to hear that your dogs are doing well take care

Bonnie said...

The attack on you and the dogs left me saddened about this great state. I am so glad that you are alive.....and as are the dogs...I worry about snow machines when I am out on the trail.....but to be attacked by one is too horrendous to imagine.....and to have it happen to you....I cannot imagine.

Julie S. said...

Aliy, There are so few humans, in general, who could complete the Iditarod. Let alone complete it and be able to place in the position you finished in after experiencing such a traumatic situation. You are such incredibly strong woman and you have so much love surrounding you, and I hope that you know that trauma takes time to ease. For it is at our darkest points in life that our true essence is revealed and you were an inspiration before this experience, and you continue to be even more after. You are one incredible lady. I am already looking forward to 2017's Iditarod and watching you race. Thank you for all the good that you do and the kindness you show to all. My thoughts and prayers are with you, as time heals all.

Anonymous said...

And to Aliy Zirkle goes the Golden Trail Marker Award.

This comes from all her fans and admirers of courage.

Given to someone who in the face of adversity, uncertainty, harm and death stands guarding her team with a trail marker.
Standing in the face of cowardice and intimidation with the attitude of I’m not going down without a fight.

In my mind I see you standing there ready to battle.

He left because he knew he couldn’t win.

All our love, Linda & Midnight.

Judy in VA said...

Aliy, those folks who have commented before me have expressed my sentiments as well.

I feel sad--and angry, too--that this incident occurred to you and your team. I know that experiencing this terror while participating in a sport you love so much has affected you on my levels and in many different ways. However, I also know that with the help, support and love from Allen, your family, SPK staff and friends you will heal with time.

Aliy, I'm pulling for you and the team you took to Nome. You are an athlete and champion of Olympian caliber.

tmcaleer said...

Only those who have experienced such a personally and seriously grievous event could ever relate to what you have been dealing with.

We were all so very stunned, crushed and cried hearing the sad news of this incident on you and Jeff that we held our breath for many days pulling for you in this dark time.

You continue to exemplify and express the true rich vibrant colors of who we all have grown to know Aliy Zirkle to be. You are the finest measure of refinement and grace to us all standing tall in the ugly face of adversity and pushing through.

In a word ... Amazing.

We love you Aliy and will continue to stand by your side as you continue go through this, so proud of the wonderful person you are.

Unknown said...

You are a wonderful example to mushers, dog lovers, women and all people. We were very distressed that a beloved musher and team were treated so horribly and relieved to find you ok and continuing the race. Love and admiration from Missouri sled dog lovers.

Barbara Boucher said...

praying you find peace & healing, Aliy, & the same for the people of Nulato.

Gaye Morgan-Walton said...

God bless you Aliy and may time soothe this trauma to the status of a dim memory. You are a survivor and that is important. The love coming your way from around the world should at least be a psychological bandaid while you recover. Long ago I went through an extended period where I and my beloved horses and mules were threatened and some of the animals actually were killed. I survived. The scars are there nearly fifty years later but I did not let them stop me and I am sure you will not either. I truly believe karma works and the perpetrator(s) of this will get his in time. Thank you for being the inspiration and hero to so many that you are and I pray you can continue to do what you love and excel in. The world would be a little darker without that. My most sincere prayer is that you go in peace and harmony the rest of your days.

Anonymous said...

Superman wears Aliy Zirkle pajamas!
I would wear it too, a lot.

Renee Kizziar said...

What class. In a time where people use any event to attract attention, your statement is sincere and clear about moving ahead. I am also praying for you that there will be no scars left and that none of your joy with your outdoor life will be diminished.

Anonymous said...

You hang in there sweet heart. My entire family follows you on the trail every year. As so many others have said. Hold your head up, you owe nobody anything. We are very proud and impressed you continued on to finish much less place 3rd. You are a role model to everyone who enjoys outdoors Alaska. I hope you get the justice you feel you deserve. Tom Rainey

Ellen said...

Aliy, you are an inspiration to me and everyone. To come in third after this horrible event is more than amazing. I hope you can find someone to help you through the PTSD (post traumatic stress ...) which you have been alluding to without naming. Give yourself some time to heal, and I hope to see justice done.

Amy said...

Aliy, from way down in Florida my prayers and thoughts have been with you, and will continue to be. So glad you're okay and glad you can now be surrounded by your dear loved ones and friends.

You are well loved by many you don't even know because of your happy spirit, your contagious attitude of fun, and your obvious and unselfish care of your team.

Stephen White said...

Glad you are safe. We met last May and your love of your dogs was obvious.

Marilyn cozzens said...

Aliy you are very loved by me as well as my five dogs residing here in New Mexico. Thank you so much for sharing with your fans. What happened on the trai to you and your team was horrific and incompressible. What courage and determination to defend yourself and team when one person threatened and terrorized you for such a prolonged time. I am saddened and angry that this happened to you but during the Iditarod race is awful. Take time to heal & recoperate. My time make this incident grow dim. Love & prayers. Am thankful Clyde will be reunited with you all in Nome. Finishing third is amazing after your experince.

Libby the Lab said...

Hopefully time will help you heal.

Franci Schwartz said...

Praying for peace in your heart and rest for you and the canine athletes. I am thankful the outcome was not worse. It's so awful when something like this happens, but I admire how you have handled it. You are one of my heroes, Aliy!

Bob Zirkle said...

Aliy,
So sorry to read about the malicious and apparently deliberate attack on you and Jeff. If your dog is anything like my grandpa, (Clyde Zirkle) he will come back stronger than ever. Prayers sent your way.
Bob Zirkle
Onarga, IL

Cathy said...

We're behind you all the way, Aliy. You've earned the love and trust of your fans a thousand times over.

Anonymous said...

Aliy, u r a beautiful dedicated musher. my eyes water each time i read or watch video of the events on this day of tragedy for u and Nash and his mates and musher. i don't recall the ice being mentioned in other posts of the matter. considering it was intentional from such a asshole we refer to as human....maybe it happening on ice was intentional also. i am glad no more pets were murdered throughout this ordeal. sad for mushers to watch such terror of their pets and endure emotional pain that will always b a bad memory. Prayers for u, ur beautiful huskies and ur fellow mushers and their huskies now and in the future. p.s. Toots.

Maddy and Molly said...

Hopefully time will heal but to experience such an assault can be life changing. I am inspired by your spirit and devotion to your sled dogs. Wishing you the best and look forward to more pics and tales from the one and only SP Kennel! Hang in there. We love you all!

kenkillercroc said...

Agree! You don't want to be remembered for this incident. Move on. WIN the Iditarod and be for ever remembered for that. You did great and you are a very strong person. I am your fan! GO Aliy GO!!!!

Anonymous said...

You came through a difficult situation with strength and grace....you are an amazing woman! Terry B.

Anonymous said...

You and your team is why I watch the race,....always a smile on your face and the kindness you spred to all at the checkpoints and along the trail! To come in third this year is more then winning!! Amazing! Thanks to you and your team!!

Anonymous said...

It was wonderful to see you interacting with your fans in villages after this attack!!! What a wonderful role model! I ditto the Golden Trail Marker Award & "Superman wears Aliy Zirkle Pajamas"!!! For the love of mushing dogs, a Washington MuSHEr.

Anonymous said...

http://www.ktvb.com/features/boise-veterinarian-helped-dogs-injured-in-attack-at-iditarod/102582191

lurcherdog1 said...

It is truly painful knowing someone would intentionally or neglectfully damage / terrorize another person ... as you experienced. Moreso, to hurt a dog...so unaware and trusting. But to damage a sporting team who has worked so hard and so long to get as far as you did? Unthinkable. We are a long way from you, in Florida, but we were feeling much angst and were supporting you in our hearts ...wishing you and your lovely dogs the best.