Thirty years after a woman first won Alaska’s signature athletic competition, Verizon is honoring the women of mushing and sponsoring the top female competitor, Aliy Zirkle. Back in 1985, “We Are the World” topped the charts, Microsoft launched Windows 1.0 and Libby Riddles made history, proving the Great Iditarod Trail Race was more than just a “man’s game.”
On the eve of the ceremonial start of the Iditarod in Anchorage, Libby received the inaugural Verizon Women of Mushing Award for her amazing accomplishments and on-going role as author, speaker and premiere ambassador for the sport of mushing.
This year’s race included 24 women, the most ever, and coincided with International Women’s Day, recognizing those who’ve broken through barriers to achieve great heights. Alaska’s female U.S. Senator, Lisa Murkowski, joined Verizon in thanking Libby for inspiring a generation of young women to believe they can overcome all odds, and praised the tremendous perseverance of the women of mushing. The Verizon Foundation demonstrated the company’s support through a donation to a local charity working with girls and young women.
The 2015 Iditarod ended in Nome, Alaska about the time March Madness arrived in the “lower 49.” The race celebrates true Alaskan grit, covering a thousand miles across treacherous terrain as mushers, dogs and sleds bounce on top of frozen rivers and wind through mountain passes. Mushing pairs humans and canines in a test of inter-dependence, navigational skill and endurance. Male and female mushers compete as equals, facing extreme and unpredictable weather, including 40-degree-below-0 temperatures this year.
The Iditarod traces its roots to the “Race for Mercy,” an emergency sled dog relay in 1925 delivering life-saving diphtheria antitoxin serum to the villagers of Nome.
After competing furiously for more than 8 days, Aliy Zirkle and her team of sled dogs reached Nome, Alaska in 5th place. Verizon supplied Aliy and her husband and fellow musher, Allen Moore, with smartphones, accessories and GoPro cameras to assist in training and contributing photos to the team website; http://spkenneldoglog.blogspot.com/