Aily Zirkle is not not only the owner and operator of SP Kennels with her husband, Allen, she is a long-time dog-musher and past winner of the Yukon Quest. She embodies the spirit of toughness and independence that leads heartier souls to Alaska.
Aily was born and raised in Pennsylvania. She did not grow up with the dream of moving to Alaska, but she had a sense of adventure that simply could not be quenched by a life in crowded, noisy cities. She had long desired to live a very different kind of life, and she came upon it rather by accident.

After completing school, she was looking for a summer job. She was evaluating her options, and came upon a summer job in Bettles, Alaska of all places. So she ventured, thousands of miles away to a city with "a population of 35 on a good day." The experienced changed her, and she never wanted to leave.

She loved animals and the outdoors, and our fair state became her true home. She hiked and explored on her own, and then adopted a dog named "Skunk." They explored, and met a number of other people involved in dog-mushing.

Aliy adopted 5 more dogs, and then she was literally off and running here in Alaska. Aliy has a competitive nature, and so she decided to begin competing in dog mushing races. Her hobby turned into a passion, which led her to her spouse, which led them to their shared life and livelihood.

Aliy and Allen own and operate SP Kennels out in Two Rivers. This is the place they have made their home, and plan to remain. In the year 2000, Aliy Zirkle became the first woman to win the Yukon Quest. Her accomplishment gained quite a bit of notice, and it has made her into an Alaskan icon of sorts.

You would never guess at her level of celebrity by listening to her, though, for she is as humble and helpful as a person can be. Her presentation was both enlightening and humorous, and she was a genuine delight to speak with and learn from.