UNALAKLEET, Alaska (KTUU) - Iditarod veteran and Yukon Quest champion Aliy Zirkle pulled into Unalakleet Sunday evening to be greeted by her husband and father.
Aliy Zirkle smiles at her husband, Allen Moore, in Unalakleet. (KTUU)
"I looked for them in McGrath, I was quite sad they weren't there, I'm going to have to be honest," said Zirkle about reunting with her family. "Oh, it's awesome, you think about it for the last 10 or 15 miles and wonder if they're there - family means everything to me."
Zirkle's husband, two-time Yukon Quest champion Allen Moore, waited patiently in Unalakleet for his wife to arrive. For the past 12 years he has run every Iditarod, except for 2012. He is sitting on the sidelines for the 2019 race.
"Personally, I don't like it," said Moore with a laugh. "But I get to see my beautiful wife come in."
Moore said he would be looking closely at Zirkle's dog team and offering support as she traveled to Nome.
"Sometimes when you've run this far in the race, and you're so sleep-deprived, you don't really have a concept, everything is more negative than it really is," he said. "So, I'm going to reassure her that her dogs look good, you look good, and you're going to get better and better and better, it's all positive."
As for Zirkle's chances to claim her maiden Iditarod victory, Moore was honest, saying anyone in the top ten stood a chance, but it would take an event like a storm for the race leaders to accordion together and her to take the lead.
Standing alongside Moore was Doug Zirkle, Aliy's father, who has traveled out to see most of his daughter's 19 Iditarod races.
Just before 9:00 p.m. Sunday, Zirkle arrived into Unalakleet. There was a brief reunion with her husband and father before she cared for her dogs.
"They look like a dog team that has a lot left in the tank," said Moore. As for his daughter, Zirkle said she looked great coming into Unalakleet, particularly compared to one year when she was dehydrated from her ride from Kaltag.
Speaking to Channel 2, Zirkle agreed with Moore's assessment of her chances of claiming victory saying a storm could come in and slow down teams or blow all teams, herself included, away.
The unpredictability of the coast means the unlikely can soon become inevitable.