We have heard from many with regards to musher penalties imposed pursuant to Rule 37, found in the Iditarod Rule Book. Some have expressed considerable vitriol that a musher could be punished for sheltering dogs inside. One of the foundational tenets of the Iditarod is a passionate concern for dogs and dog welfare. Those of you who have expressed concerns believe what we believe: that exemplary dog care is of paramount importance. We realize on the surface that the rule seems rigid and fails to account for extreme weather situations.
Please know this rule has been in place for many years with the intent to ensure fair competition but certainly not to imperil dogs or mushers. Violations of this rule have not been a significant issue…until now. During the 50 years of The Last Great Race there have been numerous big storms, but this storm may have been unique given its geography, intensity, and duration. As in all sports, the Iditarod rules are a living document and as new information becomes available, they are improved to make the sport safer while preserving an even playing field, which is the core tenet of every great sporting event. Perhaps this situation will provide such a moment of enlightenment.
Please know that we will be reviewing not just rule 37 but all the Iditarod race rules to ensure consistency with our objectives and values. Also, know that a panel has been formed to hear the appeals from the penalized mushers. This panel is mandated to issue a decision within 45 days. In the meantime, thank you for caring.
-The Iditarod Trail Committee