Statement From Aliy Zirkle

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.