Tomorrow the Iditarod begins again. Last year I put forth and idea to the ITC (Iditarod Trail Committee) on how to do this. My idea was simple, and would give credit to the original Nome serum run of 1925. During the Nome run it was done by relays. No dog team or musher ran the entire 1049 miles on their own. This is a historical fact, beyond reproach.
My idea was to have the total number of entries draw lots for who would be on their relay team. Because the race would run in a relay fashion, prize money would be divided by the teams for each place. Now I know that greed has its place much like the Gold Rush days. Everyone wants to win the big prize, but at what cost to the dogs and musher’s? It’s become all about money. It takes money to train and maintain a huge kennel of dogs. And just like in any pro sport certain teams would always dominate if not controlled.
A prime example of how this is controlled is in the National Football League. They try to achieve parity by using the draft. The best team gets the last pick of new players etc. Parity could be achieved in the Iditarod as well by using relay teams drawn by lots.
I think this would in fact make the race much more competitive. You will have some stars on your relay team and you will have some novices, or average racers and teams. The point being that you play the cards you are dealt to the best of your ability. That’s what they did in the original Nome run. They went with what they had.
The ITC told me that in no way does the Iditarod race commemorate or have any allegiance to the Nome serum run. I asked them why then do they have Togo’s taxidermy mount on display in their Head Quarters if they are not commemorating this event. I was told they did that as a favor to the owner of Togo’s mount. Come on, you really want me to believe that? It’s called association and many people who visit automatically connect Leonhard Seppala and the famous Togo and Balto to this race.
Furthermore, why is the most prestigious award the “Seppala humanitarian award?” The award for the dog team in the best condition after the race, if they don’t recognize the Nome run? Why does the race follow some of the same trail ran by Leonhard Seppala and the other brave mushers in 1925?
You don’t need to win $75K plus a truck worth $40K to eat. Spread the money out between the relay winners, and it will go further to promote healthy active mushing for musher’s and dogs. There will no longer be the need to raise 200 dogs to find a few of race caliber. No more culling of dogs that don’t make the grade by unscrupulous owners.
Maybe my idea needs tweaked, but it’s a start. If things don’t change PETA or some other agency is eventually going to get the Iditarod shutdown. That would in fact be a shame, the race needs to change with the times. Nothing stays the same and the Iditarod needs to change even if this idea is not the answer.