We K9 reporters have received many emails and blog comments asking us what the difference is between a musher who has scratched or was withdrawn from the race. This is an excellent question for the blog.
When a musher scratches from the race, he or she makes the decision themselves. The most common reason a musher scratches is for the best interest of the team. This means a lot of things. Sometimes, a musher is hurt or ill and they feel they cannot take care of their team properly. The team may be ill or not performing to the level needed to finish the race and the musher scratches. The sled may have been damaged to the point that it is not useable and an extra sled is not available. There’s just so many reasons a musher may have for not continuing the race.
Withdrawn means the decision was made for the musher. The decision is made by a 3 judge panel. At least 2 of the judges must agree to the withdrawal. This decision does not mean that the musher did anything wrong. This year Rob Loveman was withdrawn from the race due to his team no longer being competitive. He was in last place and far enough behind the others that he would not be able to catch up to them.
There is one more way that a team would leave the trail and that is by disqualification. This is more serious and rarely happens. All 3 judges must agree that a musher should be disqualified. The chief Veterinarian may be consulted also if cruel or inhumane treatment of the dogs is suspected. Mushers can be disqualified for deliberately breaking the rules, cheating, or abuse of the dogs. The musher is given the chance to present his case to the judges before a decision is made.
Hope that helps. Thanks for the great questions you have been asking this year. We will be answering the questions we are asked the most on the blog. So keep reading and writing.
See you on the trail,