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Veteran Iditarod musher Aliy Zirkle wins Seppala Humanitarian Award

 Aliy Zirkle tends to her dogs on the trail of the 2019 Iditarod.
Aliy Zirkle tends to her dogs on the trail of the 2019 Iditarod. (KTUU)
Published: Mar. 28, 2020 at 1:28 PM AKDT
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Veteran Iditarod musher Aliy Zirkle has been awarded the Leonhard Seppala Humanitarian Award for this year’s Iditarod. The Seppala Award goes to the musher who demonstrates outstanding care of their race team while remaining competitive.

The winner of this award is determined by votes from trail veterinarians as well as an independent score from three veterinarians in Nome. Volunteer trail veterinarians submit their first, second and third choices based on the musher’s care of their team at the checkpoints. Teams placing in the top 20 are then evaluated by three veterinarians in Nome. The dogs are assessed based on hydration, attitude, body weight and gait.

Zirkle arrived in Nome in 18th place this year with a time of 10 days, 7 hours, 28 minutes and 30 seconds with 11 dogs in harness.

Zirkle has won this award six times and will receive paid entry into next year’s race. An engraved trophy will also be presented to her at a future date since the Nome banquet has been canceled due to COVID-19 concerns.