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Allen Moore and Aliy Zirkle enjoy the pre-race hubbub before they get down to business.

Aliy interviews with Laureli

2014 Yukon Quest champion Allen Moore passed his winning team to partner Aliy Zirkle for the 2014 Iditarod. She’ll be running 12 of his 14 dog Quest team and will be adding 4 more to round up to 16. He says trail conditions should be similar to the Quest and after 1000 miles of ice and low snow under their belts, the dogs should be prepared for this tough race.

The two mushers decided long ago that they want one “A” team to be contenders in each race, and that team, for Iditarod 42, runs with Aliy. Allen’s goal this year is to get his young team of dogs to the finish line in Nome, “and then the next year, hopefully, they’ll be in the #1 team. I had several in my team last year, and they’re actually in Aliy’s #1 team this year.”

Allen Moore

Allen Moore, leaving the starting line during Saturday’s Ceremonial Start.

Allen favors running the race behind partner Aliy, rather than watching her race from the computer. “It’s a lot easier for me, being back in the race, rather than being at home.” He feels confident in their A-team’s ability, after their run in the Quest: “They’re really healthy and good and know what to expect, and hopefully [they’ll] have good results.”

Aliy Zirkle crams in her chats with fans at the start, realizing once the race is underway, chats with fans are few and far between.

Aliy Zirkle signs an autograph

Aliy Zirkle signs an autograph at the Sunday re-start in Willow, Alaska.

Running most of Allen Moore’s team coming off the 2014 Yukon Quest victory, Zirkle says they’re also predominantly the same dog team that brought her in second place for the 2013 Iditarod. So they’re trained for long distances, and this race will not be new to them.

With a couple second place finishes behind her, Zirkle comments that “No one wants it more than I do. I would love for [a win] to happen. There’s a heck of a lot of miles between now and then, and I’m not going to make any guesses…” She’s hoping that she ends up at least near the top this year. With some steep competition this year, she certainly has her job cut out for her.

Considering the hard and fast trail conditions this year, Aliy’s “not too worried.” She feels she has a good command on a very responsive team: “They’re better than driving a pick-up truck.” She knows there will be challenges, but doesn’t waste too much mental energy on worrying about how things will be. She takes the challenges as they come, plans on “hanging on, steering around stumps and trees, and hope for the best.”