Rule #1 in the Official Iditarod Rules is that teams must qualify to race in the Iditarod. “He/she must complete two (2) 300-mile qualifiers and another approved qualifier for a total of 750 miles to be qualified.” The rule also states that “he/she during such approved qualifying races demonstrated the necessary physical and mental aptitude and preparedness, as well as the necessary wilderness and mushing skills.” In other words, the humans on the team need to show that they are able to care for a team of dogs while they themselves are tired, hungry, and cold while racing through the Alaska wilderness. It’s also important to note that according to Rule #1 mushers also need to prove to the Iditarod Trail Committee that their kennels meet strict standards for dog care. (As a dog, I appreciate that rule.)
The John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon is one of the qualifying races for teams wanting to participate in the Iditarod. The people who feed me surprised me with a trip to the start of the Beargrease in Duluth, MN. I saw a few teams here who will also be racing in the Iditarod. They are Martin Massicotte, Ryan Redington, and our friend Laura Neese. Awooooooooo! It was fun to see my canine friends in harness ready to explore the Minnesota wilderness with their mushers.
Remember, if you have questions for Zuma, write to me here: firstname.lastname@example.org. Questions will be answered in upcoming posts.