I, was not, and am, still not, very comfortable talking about the assaults on me during the Iditarod 2016. Originally, I thought that by sharing that horrible story, it would only create a world of drama and undercut the terrifying reality of the attack on me. There seems to be enough make believe drama in our world that I didn’t want this serious of an event to be trivialized. Also it just plain hurt to talk about. Imagine someone actually trying to kill you. Yea… not a great thought, eh?

But now, I have come to realize that by not sharing the awful details of March 12th it has left many people not understanding how much the attack affected me. So the reality is that I have struggled for over 10 months to try to return to the ‘person I used to be.’ I have only recently come to the realization that I will never be that person again.

But today is a good day. It is the first day in over 10 months that I can start to look forward instead of back. Arnold Demoski plead guilty and was sentenced to serve a six-month prison term for his attacks. I was able to say a few words to Demoski – the man who single-handedly created many nightmares and current fears in me. I was glad to speak my mind and it helped me tremendously.

The exact outcome and prison sentence is simply a resolution. I have learned more than I ever wanted to know about the State of Alaska criminal justice system. I can only hope to never be a victim of a crime again.

For me, today was the end of waiting and worrying and waiting. Now, I can focus ahead. There are only 74 days until Iditarod starts. I have not yet been able to picture myself or my dog team out on that trail again. So now my job is to focus ahead and bring back the ‘Aliy’ that loved that trail for many years. As always… I will do my best.

For more details on the actual Court Case both the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner and the Anchorage ADN have articles today.

62 Responses

  • Aliy,
    I am glad to read that the legal resolution of the attack on you & your team allows you to look forward again. My hope for you is that each mile of the Iditarod moves you further from the effects of this event. Winston Churchill said, "Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning." I hope this is true for you.

  • Sunset on one terrible terrifying experience will bring sunrise on a new and wonderful day – just being able to have each day is a gift.

    With hope and caring,


  • Go Aliy Go! There are some event in life that mark us forever. WE have to find our inner strength hidden somewhere, for some it is fast and for other it takes longer. To do it we have to be ready to move forward. Bravo Aliy

  • Aliy, i have literally been in combat. It is a life changing experience. It does take time. It does become part of who you are. There is no going back. But, strong people can take these experiences and survive. I cant tell you how long it will take, only that i know you will be ok.

  • Aliy, you are loved by a whole lot of people. We love that trail because of you, so lean on us as you find it again…you will. It's a part of who you are. Imagine all of us supporting you from our keyboards, monitors, and GPS trackers, wrapping you in a bubble as you go down the trail. And imagine us all in those Aliy Zirkle pajamas superman made famous!

  • I hope, in time, you can feel the love of the Iditarod trail again, Aliy. I was so glad to read the article that said you spoke to Demoski in court. When I read that I had hoped it made you feel somewhat better in getting a few words to him.
    Hugs to you and looking forward to following you in the race.
    Tracy from Maine

  • Thank you for sharing. I can tell that was hard but I feel it is important for your well being. I part of what you said in court. It was very powerful and a brave thing to do. Kudos for what you said to him about bring valued. You are one awesome person.

  • This makes me sad to read. Praying for your peace and comfort as you get ready for the race. Praying your friendship with the dogs overshadows the darkness that encroached on it.

  • No, sadly Aliy, you will never be the same. However you WILL BE STRONGER, better and happily on the trail again. Speaking to him directly is a huge step in your recovery. I KNOW you will put this behind you and move FORWARD. This is all we can do when SHIT happens to us. And this certainly was a shitty experience. I will keep you (and ALL of SPK) in my prayers and watch you via the internet, as you make your way to Nome. God Bless! Wishing you a happy, joyous and FREE Iditarod run for 2017 and ALWAYS.
    AnnTM & BayLee Rose (my dog-daughter)
    in Onset, MA

  • Aliy, well said. A wise woman once told me that our trials are the fire that refines us as gold. Allow that incident to become the fire that smooths out the rough edges and strengthens you. Don't allow it to define you— you are more than that one incident caused by a weak individual. Our positive energy will be riding with you through the Iditarod this year. Let your light shine!

  • Oh, Aliy! I just knew there would be lasting effects from that horrifying time. I hope you can get back to something like normal now. We're not there with you but we're all here for you. You and your dogs have so so so many fans out here and you make all of us feel like part of your pack. Hang in there, kiddo and get ready for 2017! We're behind you all the way!!

  • Aliy,
    Every mile of this next race, I will be thinking of you and lifting you and your team up in prayers for strength and courage. I will be on the sidelines the first and second day and will cheer you all on. Victory is found in picking yourself up, leading your team, and completing your mission. You have that courage inside you and your dogs have it in their very souls. Together, you will make this a new race with a set of new eyes, and a heart filled with courage and love. I'm with you, Aliy.


  • I cannot imagine the fear you must have felt at the time and in
    the intervening months. You are a strong woman – proven (if by
    nothing else) by all your long distance team runs. As you said
    – focus on the future and the sport you so dearly love – AND
    DON'T let that poor excuse of a human win. You have to and
    will – beat the fear he instilled in you.
    Just know that a lot of your fans and friends are praying
    and pulling for you.
    And we will be cheering for you as you make your way to
    Nome on the 2017 trail !!
    Keep on keeping on…….

  • This is the perfect situation for the application of the serenity prayer – God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.
    Courage was demonstrated 10 months ago, serenity has been practiced over the last 10 months as it worked it's way through the legal process and wisdom in this post.
    Now, Aliy, go out there and kick some butt with the same courage, wisdom and grace that you exemplify every day of your life!!!
    We have your back!

  • Aliy, thanks for sharing from the heart with all those who care about you and support you, Allen, SPK and the incredible family (4 & 2-legged) that surrounds you. All these prayers, love and positive energy will carry you to whatever finish line is ahead of you. Mush on with all the courage and caring that all of us send to you!

  • While you've shown admirable restraint regarding this horrifying incident, I'm glad you are now able to share your feelings more candidly, as your many fans can now share their concern and support. We are going up to AK for the race this year and look forward to cheering you on!

  • Aly,
    There are so many messages here that are so true. As unbelievable as it may seem, from here on, you will be a better person than you were before March 12, 2016. You know yourself better, mentally, emotionally and physically. Your understanding of others has grown. While on one side that hurts for now, you understand survivors in a way that only a survivor can.
    While you deal with seeing and hearing things, shaken nerves, nightmares…. Somewhere down the line, you will dig deep and access the strength and growth that the experience brought you, and you will overcome. This isn't true for everyone.
    You have already demonstrated that you are a person who chooses to grow when the going get rough. You have our compassion, understanding, love and support.
    Aly 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, were phenomenal, but they are history. They step aside for Aliy 2017! You'll be amazing.
    I reiterate my hope, that Iditarod 2017 will be your most enjoyable Iditarod yet.
    Love and respect.

  • Aliy, I feel your pain and admire your strength. It is certainly not easy to deal with attacks of that caliber. I pray for you to continue to strive to move forward and hope to see you and your team back out on that trail again!
    I am about 5 and half years out of a very abusive marriage and yes, there were times I feared for my life… and it is very difficult to get it out of your head..
    Hang in there! Ours dogs is what keeps us going and keeps us strong.. That and the love and support of our family and friends!

  • Nobody will ever take your Warrior Spirit, Aliy. Do what you need to do to heal – just know we're all looking forward to the Aliy that emerges when you're ready to shed this cocoon. I have no doubt it will be a beautiful thing to behold.

    Sending hugs, pawsitive thoughts, and prayers.

    Lori and Frank
    in Virginia

  • You are so brave to speak out about this incident and how it has affected you. I think you will do a lot of good far, far beyond this incident. I remember that at one camping spot just after the incidents, Schmoe would not lie down. You remarked that Schmoe was one of your more emotional dogs. One of your fans on the blog wrote that Schmoe was saying "go to sleep – I got this, I got you". And I was thinking that is how everyone on this dogblog feels, this is how everyone who loves you feels. This year I picked Schmoe to fan because of that post and video clip. Thank you for your courage, Aliy. You inspire us.

  • Not being a brave person myself, I could not imagine where you found the courage to continue the race. At each checkpoint you had the opportunity to say enough is enough, I'm done and yet you continued on. What you loved – the quiet alone time with your dogs – was now subject to fear for your life and theirs. While you may never feel the same again Aliy, you are still the woman who refused to let fear take over her life. You lead by example. You face each day as is comes and have hope for a better tomorrow. The smile may be harder to find sometimes, but that is OK. We will still be Aliy and SPK fans. Winning the Iditarod would be nice (OK maybe more than nice), but the fun part for us is watching you try. Let the season begin!


  • All I can do is send a whole lot of love and healing energies along with heartfelt prayers that you can and will move on and put this behind you. Yes, it is very hard to walk on past traumas–after 73 years I have seen my share, perhaps not as Drastic as yours but danger ad things that scared me badly. You are stronger than you give yourself credit for and you can do it. FOcus on those wonderful dogs and they can help brig some of magic back. And above all know you are loved and admired by many, many folks who will be there with you in spirit every mile. (((((Aliy)))))

  • There is no single 'right' way to move forward – but in fits and starts, moving forward will happen. You have gained a wisdom that will start to 'shine' when you least expect it. Whatever trail you decide to wander down will be lit by the 'shine' of your four-legged ones, your friends and family, and the internal glow that will grow in you. I don't really call it strength as much as a fundamental joy for still being able to appreciate a sunrise, a child, and goofy dog smiles. Hang in there, be patient (at least alittle), and know that those from afar are sending their 'shine' your way….Woof, Woof (and a Meow – I know, horrors) from the Dog and Cat Willette Family

  • We love you Aily, and are behind you 1000%! You have a great family, SPK team and fans who want nothing more than to see you succeed in everything you do. I cried as I read the article yesterday. Still not totally sure why, but I know my heart hurts for both you and Jeff and what you had to go through. There will never be going back to prevent it or an opportunity to change history. I do believe that everything happens for a reason, but have been struggling with why this had to happen to you. Just know that you have the love and support of many, many people. People who know you and those of us who hope to one day get the honor of meeting you face to face. We will always have your back, no matter what. You stay strong and your team will help you down the trail. You will work as one, as you always do. And we will be right here with you cheering you on every single mile.

  • Your warrior spirit will come back, Aliy, because you are a warrior! There are so many that love you, love your Kennel and cheer for you. Sending hugs to you.

  • Aliy, you are an amazing woman and I have enjoyed getting to know you through our sponsorship. I know your experiences are very personal, but know you are quietly supported and admired by others. Take care, enjoy the holidays and hopefully we will see you on the trail in 2017. – Robyn

  • Laine Family has you in their prayers. You and Allen are the toughest and most positive people we have ever met. I won't minimize it, this will be with you for a long time. But I know you're forty-below-zero tough, grizzly bear tough, blizzard tough, Alaska tough. And you will persevere and overcome.

    Steve Laine

  • Aliy, Thank You for your open, transparent, honest heart felt sharing. Yes we knew it affected you deeply, thanks for sharing that fact. Aliy please know that was realized by us here and with that we have kept You, The Red Team, Alan, The Black Team on a daily thought and prayer list. In addition we have a world wide prayer team and they have been praying for you all and keeping you all in thought. Yes it is surprising and disappointing how Alaska changed the laws and to the degree of how they now compared to how they use to hold perps responsible and penalties. We will join you in thought of you along with prayers that the focus need will take place quickly and then carry you through the 2017 Iditarod and to the Victory line as Champ. Again thanks for sharing this information it helps use bring what resolve it brings and closure for us as well. We are and have been standing with you. GBY CHAMP!

  • I hope that by sharing, this will help your healing and enable you to now move forward and think about the next 74 days with as much positive light as you can muster. I am so sorry that this happened, I hope you find the person you wish to be again and more! Mush love from Lidia and Richard

  • Your statements in the Court Room were in a word Powerful. I am in awe of your poise and strength as you have dealt with this horrible assault. This is a new page….a new beginning for you…and as the light returns tomorrow on Winter Solstice, may the light, laughter and your love of that trail return to your heart as you continue to heal.

  • I have PTSD, you never go back to being the same person. You are different after the experience or experiences, it isn't just the trauma, the knowledge gained from them changes you. Others do not know what you know. I will be very excited and waiting for you to win the Iditarod this year. It's going to happen.

  • I wish I could think of anything to say, besides sending all kinds of love and good wishes to you and your family and the dogs. That's all I've got, though, so, sending away!

  • You're like many in the military. We deploy, our eyes are opened, and then we return expecting to become the person I was. It will never be nor can it. You are dealing w/ PTSD like any of us. BUT (and a big one…) we take that next step forward. We may fall back, our sleep may be very disturbed (and yes, it's annoying), but we get up again. We fall; we rise. We're here; indeed, we're here. And you're here. Don't give up; we're not going to, okay?

  • I can't believe how you handle yourself. You are an amazing person
    and I hope you find the inter strength that I know you have to go
    do what you love in life–MUSH! Go Girl Go! We the fans are behind
    you 100%!

  • Hugs to you Aliy!!! You are a role model to many and this event has been on the minds of many of your fans. keep looking forward and rise up to take back that trail.

  • You are a good person, Aliy Zirkle. Your words to Demoski reflect that. By the response to this post I think you and Allen can see how much your fans love, respect and support both of you. I had forgotten about Schmoe not being able to settle down after the incident until Barb mentioned it. Such a great testament to your connection with the dogs under your care. Mush on, Aliy, we are with you.

  • Aliy,
    We hope that you feel all of the love and support in the comments here and the likes and comments on the Facebook post. Your grace, dignity and courage are admirable. We have often wondered about the lasting effects of that horrible day and how you were dealing with it and yes, how you will deal with it come March 2017. If we had magic words I'd send them your way. Suffice it to say that you are loved, supported and admired by thousands around the world. But only YOU can come to terms with all that was and all that will be. You will continue to be in our thoughts and prayers.

    Best regards from Erie, PA
    Lisa & Charlene

  • Love and prayers Aliy – you're an inspiration to so many – Love watching you via FB and the web. I've typed and deleted a bunch of sappy comments, praying for peace, serenity, confidence, courage and a return to the conquerer you are! Jackie Smith (Soldotna)

  • Still praying for you. Glad the trial is over and you can move forward now. Can't wait to see you on the trail again. Much love and lots of hugs. Mith from NH

  • I hope the love for the Iditarod trail will return strongly to you. I believe as time goes by those good memories of the trail will rise and the bad ones will filter down to the bottom, always there, part of the quilt but not what is remembered first.

  • Go out there Aliy. Be the smart strong musher you are and take back that trail. That is your trail. All the best.

  • Thank you for sharing and letting us see both your strengths and vulnerability, how courageous of you. Occasionally I had been researching to see if there had been final action taken so this update helps to see the outcome.

    I know there had to be so much time and emotional energy drained from your regular pre-season work factoring in on top of your other thoughts and bringing it all up again in court. It must have been very frustrating and stressful on top of everything that happened. (I know I would have been very viciously angry as well.)

    It is hard to find the appropriate words to say to comfort and extend encouragement. Please know while this human betrayal took very precious and dear things from you, you demonstrate such determination, a continued deep love for your dogs, you have tremendous love and support from your family, friends and fans, these are things absolutely no one can take away.

    You are right, circumstances in life change us, but we will continue to support and be with you as you continue to move through this at your own personal pace. You are a truly an honorable and remarkable person. Go Aliy Go!

  • All of your fans will be going down the trail with you . But best of all your wonderful SP Kennel sled dogs, will be leading you down the trail with all their strength and live for the moment attitude . A New Year a New Iditarod even the strongest of people feel vanurable at times don't let it control you , control it . Happy trails once again love Joanne Bechaz & Denali 🇦🇺🐾🐾🎄❄️

  • DITTO to tmc

    Speaking from personal experience, life-threatening events can bring out the fighting spirit.

    And physical and other deficits resulting from this type of challenge force you to learn or admit that you have strength you never knew you had.


    WOOF!!! WOOF!!!

  • Aliy, I have thought for a couple of days after your post for something to say that would add to what has been expressed by all the other posters. Unfortunately I can't think of any words of wisdom that haven't been expressed but please know that we join all your other fans in wishing nothing but the best for you. Like all things in life, you will grow in some ways through this episode and will feel a loss in other segments of your life/feelings.

    Have a "GREAT" racing season this year, we will be tracking along with you from Arkansas!

    Harry and Diana Workmon

  • Aily, I do not usually post comments but please look into EMDR therapy…It worked wonders for my traumatic experience…never ever would have thought such a simple experience would take most of my horrendous experience away… May this Iditarod
    be the year of destiny for you…Kathy

  • Dear Aliy…so reading this post by you was a shock to me. You are the strongest woman that I know and I was so surprised to hear that you have been struggling since the attack. For me, it is reassuring that we are all human, and we all struggle when something terrifying happens to us.
    I am saddened that this person was able to change the way that you feel about the Iditarod Trail, as I am not sure there are many people in the world who love it more than you.
    What I do find encouraging tho, is that you have realized that you, like all of us, have to guard and protect our mental health as we move through the trials and tribulations of life….as if you weren't role model enough for all other women who aspire to be strong and independent success stories, now you will be a role model for how we can move forward from tragedy.
    Aliy…I wish you great strength and success on this new journey, and I sincerely hope that you are able to find the pure joy of being on the Iditarod Trail with your dogs…thank you for sharing your journey with us, your fans, who live vicariously through your adventures…Much Love to you <3

  • Aliy,

    I am glad that you have this significant moment (the trial) behind you. An experience like this does create a re-set moment in ones life; it's just that big. I hope that 2017 is a joyful one on the trails…remembering what has drawn you there. Looking forward to walking with the SP family this coming year.

    To joy on the trails….howl!


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