What an emotional morning!

After leaving the house early this morning Chris, Karolyn and I set up the dog lot for our buddies. We set out the kennels, stuffed them full of straw and laid out warm blankets and fleece throws. We had some beef and salmon snacks thawed and soaked kibble with meat chunks standing by.

The rest of the crew drove out at the road crossing where the teams come off the Nome-Council Road onto the Baring Sea ice about five miles out of town to silently cheer them on. Barbara got these amazing shots of the team in the sunrise.

Hearing the siren was such a relief and it summonsed everyone outside to watch the team come up Front Street. A State Trooper sits at the bottom of the street and sets the flashing lights going on his vehicle as the teams come up onto the road from the sea so we get a few minutes to enjoy watching them come towards us.

The cheers started as the crowd acknowledged and appreciated what Aliy and the dogs has just achieved. The well known “Aliy! Aliy! Aliy!” chant broke out as they crossed under the arch.

Aliy had Mismo and Scout in lead, Scruggs and Dutch in swing, Willie and Chemo, Izzy and Chipper, Kodiak and Waylon, Schmoe, then Sandy and Commando. They were very animated as they came up the chute, looking around at all the supporters and looking pretty proud of themselves.

The very first thing Aliy did was go down the line of her mates to thank and praise each of them and she sought out her Mom and Dad then each of us for a hug. She had her mandatory gear checked and officially signed into the checkpoint when a scrum of reporters gathered around her to get their pictures, videos and words. I caught some of what she said:

“It was really hard this year, really hard. Physically and emotionally but I guess that’s life itself. People have been really supportive. When people go through stuff in their life, which everyone does, I can count on myself and my dogs, so that’s kinda what I did.

Then Alaska talked back, and every checkpoint I went through everyone was so supportive. I couldn’t just be with myself, turned out I was with everyone!

I moved them [the dogs] around; everyone was a slacker once in a while, every dog was a great dog once in a while, every dog got a little chiding from me once in a while, and a “good dog”. I was the same way, I was a slacker too. It just got to show you that a team… I kept thinking about my team, there were no “All Stars”, no-one I really pressed, but they all came through at different times and I guess that what I really wanted… and we did it!”

Race Marshall Mark Nordman congratulates Aliy; Formally checking in to the checkpoint

Scout and Mismo care more about the beef than the lens

Aliy spent a little time thanking her supporters and shaking some hands before Mickey, Doug, Kaz, Sam and Barbara whisked her home for some eggs, coffee, a shower then bed. We won’t hear form her for a few hours!

Meanwhile, the vet team was waiting for us once we got the dogs to the dog lot and we stripped them (the dogs) of their harnesses and jackets for their thorough exam. With so many vets involved it was a really quick process and we were able to get them dressed in fresh jackets, fed their dinner and into bed within about 20 minutes. Every dog got their feet massaged as they settled in for a snooze in the sun and just as we left we covered them all in their blankets to make them extra cozy.

Thank you to the lovely ladies that gave us the roses! I am so sorry I didn’t get your names but they are absolutely gorgeous and Aliy will present them to her team when she next goes down to see them. They deserve winners’ roses even if they didn’t cross the line first.

There are a bunch of great photos from Jeff Schultz and the Insider video on the Iditarod website, pictures and videos we have been tagged in on Facebook, and several news agencies have covered Aliy’s arrival.

Check out KTUU, ADN, KNOM and, I’m sure, many others.

She even got a news banner on the Today Show (right)! Thanks Tiffany for capturing the moment.

Before we left the dog lot we snapped a few pictures. They are not moving much today.

Scout relaxes in the sun

Schmoe enjoys breakfast in bed while Dutch dozes off

Mismo is gone; Chemo is still awake for some loving words

Chipper decided to forego the kennel and sleep outside; Scruggs looks peaceful

Willie and Izzy curl up in identical poses

That’s Waylon under there; Commando tried to stay awake but… just… couldn’t… do it

Kodiak couldn’t decide between more kisses or more sleep; Sandy was the last dog still up

The team will be very safe, secure and looked over 24 hours a day until they fly home. The Dog Lot is manned by wonderful officials and volunteers and we know they will keep a keen eye on them. We will visit several times a day to feed them, massage them and just to chat with them.

44 Responses

  • The dog lot pics are some of my favorite. The veterans KNOW this is what they get when they arrive in Nome. Makes me want to curl up with them, they look so comfy. We've all said it before – SP Kennel Crew is the BEST. Thanks for the pictures and stories. Now, we get a bit more racing with Allen and the Black Team. Isn't it great that the puppy team is up so high in the standings. Allen does such a great job with them.

  • A BIG Exhale from all of us fans. Love you guys. Chipper at least layed down.
    Padee Fairbanks and proud supporter!

  • Now the tears are really flowing! Thanks for the great update, Moira! The team looks great and resting peacefully. Sandy probably can't believe what she just did! Will watch the video now and I'm sure shed more happy, happy tears! I'm so happy and so thankful that you guys are safe and sound in Nome. Love, hugs and kisses from CT!!! Bring it home, Black Team!

  • Congratulations! Sending good wishes and hugs to everyone. Thank you for the updates and photos and the write up from the finish line. Awesome work. Hoping Aliy and dogs get some needed rest. Lidia

  • I can't wait for Aliy to come in 3rd place in 2060! (The Today show is forecasting the future.)

    Wonderful photos of all the dogs. so happy they are all safe and sound. i know Aliy is really proud of this team's performance.

  • What an incredible day. Great videos by the ever pressing press and awesome shots by SPK's own. Don't know how you manage it with all that excitement! Now for Allen and the young-uns!

  • Thank you all for the great shots and all of it. Am tearing up to where it is hard to type. So happy, proud, thankful…another fine finish. I said before and I repeat, doesn't matter where they finish–not that this was anything to be shy about–but SPK Red Team is a real WINNER. Dogsters, enjoy the rest and well earned love coming in all over you!

  • Truly wonderful photos. I remember being in library 'class' in Elementary school and having the librarian tell us of this race. She was absolutely obsessed with it. I really didn't appreciate it at the time. Now that I am older, I most certainly can appreciate the dedication that it takes to complete the grueling race.

  • Good Dawgs resting peacefully! They are so well taken care of. Thank you SPK crew and ID volunteers for making sure they are fed and resting comfortably. Absolutely beautiful pictures of the team at sunrise heading into Nome. I watched Joar arriving under the arch and wondered if Kosak was amongst his dogs. Yes, now we await the black team's arrival. I eagerly wait to see those dogs curled up and resting In straw and covered with a blanket. Rest well Aliy, job well done!

  • Congratulations, Aliy and the entire SPK support team! The kids and are thrilled that Aliy and her Red Team this performed so amazingly well, especially given the challenges they faced on the Yukon. This great performance in a "rebuilding" year is a harbinger of more great things from SPK in future seasons. On a personal note, as Junior's sponsor and a former resident of the village of Nulato, this season and this race specifically have been a real roller coaster for me and my family, as well. Bravo to Aliy and her team. Now cheering on Allen and the next wave, too! Thanks to you all, including the great handlers and communicators. Much love, Cliff Michel & Family

  • Gigantic hug for you all and how proud I am of Aliy, Allen and SP Kennel Team. Kisses and doggie massages for all those pups snuggling down. Can't wait till Allen comes in the the entire team can be together!!

  • Happy tears :'-) Thanks for the wonderful pictures of all the Good Dogs! And so happy for Aliy, she is such an amazing person. Tough as nails and sweet as honey. Hugs and kisses from Beemer & Viper too !

  • Congratulations to the Red Team! Aliy and her team have been my favorite since I started following the race. So glad they made it to Nome safely and in good condition, though tired I'm sure! Loved seeing the pictures of the dogs getting some much deserved rest, and I hope Aliy can get some rest now too! Thanks for taking such good care of the athletes–both human and dog!

  • Yes – so happy for all of you on that fantastic Red Team. What a glorious finish after a race full of ups and downs. Congratulations, Aliy and Red Team 4-leggeds. A happy, healthy and BIG team trotting under that burled arch. Makes me smile. Thanks to the SPK crew for the pics and the updates. Now we turn all of our cheering towards the Black Team. I am so proud and so excited and so thrilled for all of you. GO Black Team, go!
    ps – the pictures with the sunrise were wonderful!

  • Thanks for the video as the live feed was out when Aliy came in.
    You all do such an amazing job! Now–Go Allen and SP Dogs!
    Anxious to hear how Violet performed!

  • So glad to see them safe and comfortable. What about the dropped dogs? Have they made it home yet and how are they?

  • Thanks for the update. It's wonderful to see the dogs resting and knowing Aliy is "home" with family and friends resting. Great job to a fantastic team of athletes (Aliy included). Quoting Aliy "they all came through at different times and I guess that what I really wanted… and we did it!" Yes you did!!!!

    Cheers and congrats!!!!!!


  • I'm a 6th grader following you on the App. Congrats on a great race! You are my favorite musher 🙂

  • What an event. These past two years, after returning to the States after sailing around for 7 years we looked for a sense of adventure to fall into since our lives had dropped us back into the "mainstream" living of life and for the past two Iditarod seasons it has been our treat and utmost enjoyment to follow this amazing race and get to know the new mushers since we left. My daughter, now a new 11, fell in love with Aliy's team and we have cheered them on for two seasons. It is always a pure joy as a momma of a mammal who walks upright (lol) to see another momma take such good and loving care of her babies, the 4 pawed furry ones. Being the leader of the mix is not easy. Pushing forward when it hurts and no one can see the tears is hard, but Aliy in her bright red parka and strong demeanor has captured our love for nature and strength and in beauty in being alone. We have seen her entry back into community, when every step before had taken her further away from that and each time she has had grace and beauty. It is a joy for my daughter to see that. My joy to see my daughter watch a woman willing to leave mainstream to venture out with her animals and seek….happiness and belief in herself, and in her teammates and for that we are grateful and appreciative. We will never forget this season…never forget the grace and strength.

  • Thank you so much for the comprehensive coverage–commentary and pictures–of Aliy's finish. It definitely makes up for that live feed being down. I was so relieved to see Aliy and the team come up Front St. The dogs looked so healthy, so energetic, and Aliy was wearing her trademark smile. She's one class act.

    Loved the pictures of the dogs. I'm convinced they knew they had not only run a great race but also that Aliy, with her love and care for them had gotten them all through an horrific experience outside of Nulato.

    So much emotion and so few words to express it. This Red Team race was "one for the books," and I'm relieved it's over.

  • Sandy looks like I did when Aliy was traveling from Kaltag to Unalakleet. I will not sleep; I will not sleep’ I will not sleep until she is on the coast.

    From my perspective, the great thing about being an armchair musher, as it is for any spectator sport, is that you can enjoy the experience without actually having to DO anything. Isn’t it great? But despite that, we all somehow manage to develop our opinions on how things should go for our favorite mushers.

    Sebastian Schnuelle posted a very good commentary on judging racing while keeping the dogs moving down the trail. He used the phrase, delicate balance, and I took that to mean the points at which a musher must judge what the team and what they themselves are capable of doing at any given decision point He noted that Brent simply erred in judging that his team could handle the last drive when they could not, which does not make him a bad musher.

    I was thinking about how I would feel if Aliy's or Allen's team came to a stand still and refused to go; I would really wonder what was wrong – that it came to that. Then I realized I never expected that it would come to that. If there is an error in judgment, I can pretty much depend on Aliy to err on the side of caution. For the armchair musher, at times, this can be a little frustrating. Yes I admit it. "Come on, Aliy (Allen), get on the trail!" Yet, when I say "depend", I really do mean depend because I expect them to bring the team and themselves home safely.

    But, as I have said, that is the beauty of the armchair approach to mushing – the luxury of feeling a little frustrated at the choices a musher makes without actually having to DO anything. The true downside of armchair mushing is when you are watching your musher in the wee hours of morning moving slowly, slowly, slowly along the trail. Another musher is stopped dead cold behind and in your gut you know things are terribly wrong. At that moment, the safety of the arm chair is not the home of frustration but instead anxiety because you can NOT do anything.

    This race, once Aliy made it to Unalakleet in a really good position, I went to sleep in high spirits She was on track despite all that had happened. When she arrived in Nulato in a solid 4th position having rested more than the musher behind her, I celebrated. The rest of the race I was beautifully sanguine about the results. It was a great race; she ran an absolutely great race.

    And by the way, that is the difference between armchair mushing and armchair football. I do not recall my husband celebrating any time the Broncos lost the Super Bowl.

  • Whew….Aliy, you and your team mates are an inspiration! No doubt this race called for digging deep; to give more trust in one another, and more care for one another, and more endurance than ever. A Great achievement by a happy and obviously proud Red Team crossing the finish line in Nome! Enjoy the moment…and Congratulations.

    Herb and Tonia

  • Great on you Aliy & your four leggeds…

    Absolutely super group in overcoming monumental challeges – pushing hard right through it; to a victory finish.

    You and your wonderful pups did grand… As other parts of the globe – this part of New Mexico yells a huge, long, loud "HOORAAHHH!!!"

  • Hopefully Aliy is snuggled up somewhere looking as peaceful as all those Super Pups.
    Chris, Karolyn and Moira thank you for doing such a great job of making a home for them in Nome.
    Thank you for the gorgeous photos arriving in Nome, the team members, and the FANtastic video, siren included!
    Aliy, Your team knows you would lay down your life to fight for them. Fifteen have seen it first hand, in the most dramatic way. You spared yourself and those pups with your quick thinking.

    I am so thankful for those along the trail, who were able to express the love and support we all felt for you.
    When faced with emotional challenges, we go backward, maintain, or grow. You took an extreme challenge, and BOY did you GROW Aliy!!!
    On your part you ran an awesome race. The outcome, truly beyond conceivable. In tune with your team.
    I'm so happy Sandy made it all the way to Nome with you, her first 1000 miler. It appears she would like to talk about it, tacitly.
    "Did you see that? I was born to run 1000 miles. I'm not spinning circles today."
    Get some well deserved rest Red Team, Super Heroes of Iditarod 2016.

  • Thanks so much for such a stellar race Aliy & Red team. What a horrific experience you had to go through, but you preserved. Winning third(really first) since you did not drop dogs to go faster. You let each dog participate in the full experience. That is what makes SPK such a fantastic kennel. You are all amazing. Thanks for pictures of each of dogs snuggled under their blankets for a well deserved rest. Rest well Aliy.

  • Congratulations on finishing 3rd!! Woohoo!! They did a great job as a TEAM!
    I'm glad to see and hear that all the team in fed and tucked in including Aliy.
    It looked like Sandy was limping a little coming, I hope she is doing better. I am always happy to see Schmoe dawg and was happy to see him at all the checkpoints.

    I was one of the lucky ones who didn't loose the live feed this morning. I did loose it after you cleared the chute and was directed to use YouTube when Wade and Peter came in. After watching them, I got side tracked on YouTube looking at puppy videos of Clyde, Schmoe, Sissy(B), Mismo, Izzy, Felix, Chipper, Sandy, Iron(B), Driver(B), Cammando, Chena(B), Spark(B), Tinder(B), Nomex(B), Violet(B), Amber(B). It was cute to watch them as pups and then watch them running the Iditarod. I loved how Aliy pointed out in the puppy video with Schmoe saying he is "going to be a true sled dog." Yes, he has lived up to that.

    Sandy H.

  • it looked like Sandy wasn't watching her footing, looking around at the crowd, and tripped, but regained her step

  • So many true and wonderful things have already been said by your wonderful and very informed fans so all that's left for myself and Denali to say What a wonderful journey you have given us this race season . Your wonderful engagement with fans even though we are far removed from the mushing world , we feel we are part of the extended support of SP KENNEL FAMILY . THE WONDERFUL PICS OF THE TEAM SNUGGLING post race are beautiful .
    Thank you for the journey and thank you for the care you all put into the four legged 🐾🐾 SP KENNEL athletes .
    3 Cheers for Aliy and the Red Team 🔴 and in advance of Allen and the Black Team ⚫️ Finish 👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻
    Denali the Golden Retriever and Joanne and Philip . Melbourne , Australia .

  • Herzlich Glückwunsch aus Deutschland und vielen Dank für die letzten 9 Tage! Es war ein großes Vergnügen, Aliy, den Hunden und dem SPK-Team zu folgen. Aliy ist eine starke Frau, ein Vorbild für uns alle und ihr Pyjama ist definitiv zu klein für Superman.

    Go Allen, lg Cathrin

    (Congrats from Germany and thanks for the last 9 days! It. was a great pleasure,to follow Aliy, the dogs and SPK-Team. Aliy is a tough strong woman and idol for us and her pyjama is definitely undersized for Superman.)

  • Everyone has posred my sentiments on the race. Words can not describe Aliy and her amazing team of athletes. Now it's time to relax, refresh, and renew.
    PS…give Commando an extra biscuit for us.

  • Thanks so much to the SP Kennel crew for helping all of us feel so involved in this great race – and thank you SP Kennel for allowing your fans to share their love and devotion to the athletes two and four legged divisions.

    So much wonderful expressions of what I felt all along the way of this 975 mile trek have been expressed by others. Those drawing parallels to other life-changing experiences in particular.

    TIP: Mine was near death medical one and when I emerged, months later victorious, one of my thoughts about it all was that I was one tough cookie – not something I had ever thought I could be – WOW was that enlightening!!!

  • HUGE congratulations to you, Aliy, for finishing well once again. By "finishing well" I don't just mean finishing in 3rd place, but finishing with integrity, strength and character.
    I have been an SPKennel fan for many years, ever since assigning "the Iditarod" to my homeschool son to study. We knew nothing about the sport at all and when I searched for info. the best site I found was the doglog. It's still the best source of information!
    I teach a class about the Iditarod at our homeschool co-op most years and assign mushers to the kids to follow. I try to choose mushers that I think would be good role models. Of course Aliy and Allen are always top picks. The kids actually "fight" to have Aliy!!!
    A couple years ago I won an SPKennel red T-shirt in a contest Ryne held (name that sled-dog). I wear it every day during every one of your races!
    I hope you're enjoying your down time now and have time to heal and "process" physically, mentally and emotionally.
    Once again, hearty congratulations to you and your awesome team of dogs and people.

  • Scout,
    Way to go Bro'.
    We watched you, whenever we could, on the big screen.
    Give our best to Aliy and Allen (Mom & Dad)and all our bud's at SPKennel.

  • Even though we are no longer staring at GPS trackers, I feel we need to update the answer to the following:

    Tracker Break Trivia
    Which team of 13 dogs made it all the way to Nome in the fastest time?

    The team of 13 dogs who made it all the way to Nome the fastest was: the 2016 SPK Red team: Mismo, Scout , Scruggs, Dutch, Willie, Chemo, Izzy, Chipper, Kodiak, Waylon, Schmoe, Sandy and Commando. They were accompanied by their musher Aliy Zirkle (wearing bib #13), and assisted in the earlier portion of the race by their teammates, Clyde, Felix and Mac.

    Their time was 8 days, 18 hours, 42 minutes and 36 seconds.
    Almost 10 hours faster than any previous team of 13 dogs in to Nome!!!

  • Congratulations on a great finish, 3rd place is amazing. I am truly inspired by your story. I have been fascinated by the Iditarod for a long time and to hear how physical and emotional this race is, I am sure compels many to be more motivated. Loved seeing the pictures you put up and I am glad to hear you finished safely. Go red team!

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