“I didn’t know until 8 miles ago that Martin (Buser) wasn’t ahead of me,” Iditarod musher Aliy Zirkle said at the Unalakleet checkpoint Saturday evening.
Pulling into Unalakleet well within daylight hours – 4:39pm on Saturday – Zirkle was praised for her fast, potentially record-breaking arrival time. A large crowd of well-wishers and race fans was on hand to welcome her to town.
Among the crowd were two officials from Wells Fargo, who awarded Zirkle the Gold Coast Award (pictured below) – signifying her accomplishment as the first musher to reach the Norton Sound coast.
With the award comes two ounces of gold from the very same Norton Sound region that, over the coming days, Zirkle and her competitors will traverse. The gold comes mostly, in fact, from Nome, the Iditarod’s finish line.
KNOM’s Laureli Kinneen was in Unalakleet for Aliy Zirkle’s arrival: