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An Iditarod to Endorse

Did you see "Sport Meets Survival: An Iditarod Without Dogs" in the New York Times?

It is promoted as the longest, most remote winter ultrarace in the world, a slog across century-old marshland trails from the outpost of Knik over the Farewell Hills, up the Yukon River, through the ghost towns of the Kuskokwim Mountains and on to the Bering Sea.

The race’s start date has been set for March 1, 2009, a week in advance of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race. . . .

In nine years of racing, only 28 men and 2 women have completed the full route to Nome, including Tim Hewitt, a lawyer from Latrobe, Pa., who reached the finish on foot in 2001, 2004 and 2008. About 90 percent of the entrants have dropped out along the trail.

Now that's a test of human endurance. As opposed to riding on a sled while a team of dogs does the hard work. The Iditarod with sled dogs, as you probably know, is a disgraceful use of man's best friend that its proponents will proclaim the dogs just love. They defend what they do to the dogs by confusing the dogs' love of running with some kind of desire to run over 1,000 miles in under two weeks, and perhaps die in the process.


I like to promote real sporting events. You know, the ones where the athletes have decided to participate and thoroughly understand the risks. That eliminates any activity labeled "sport" that involves a sentient nonhuman, such as a bull, a horse, a greyhound, a pit bull, an Alaskan Husky, a rooster or a fish. Any fish. Thrown back or not.

There are plenty of things we can do to demonstrate how fit, fast, strong or brave we are if that's important to us. We don't need to use any animal other than a human one, and we don't have a right to.

3 Comments Post a comment
  1. Dan #

    Well said, Mary. Real sportspersons test themselves and risk their own lives (as they choose with full knowledge.of the risks). Psuedo-sportspersons engage in the cowardice of testing, risking, and taking others' lives who don't choose either at all (the hunted and fished) or don't choose with full knowledge or desire (the driven and forced).

    December 25, 2008
  2. Deb #

    One of my favorite bike bloggers did the Alaska ultrasport last winter (not to nome, just to mcgrath, I think it is called), and her descriptions are amazing. (check out – on the right side there are links to her posts about it.) It is hard to imagine how people survive it, even (or especially) after reading those descriptions. She stopped in one town (the race is not completely unsupported, but there are only a few supported stops for them) and the people who were taking her in pretty much bluntly said they don't travel in that kind of weather.

    That really gets to me about the dogs – I suppose people bring up "tradition", the way they like to when it can justify things that they want to do (though it obviously isn't good enough of an excuse for things that society no longer accepts, like beating your wife to death), but that's still bullshit, even if you were the type to go along with anything as long as it is "tradition" based, because these are not local people trying to travel and trying to survive. It is just people out to do some kind of self-imposed challenge…and while I can respect going outside the norm to challenge yourself, I just can't respect anyone who forces others to risk their lives as well. The people self-propelling themselves along that trail in those conditions…I can look up to them and be in awe of their achievement.

    December 25, 2008
  3. Mary – sorry for being out of touch for so long (unfortunately my day job takes up a lot of my energy and what with website problems that crop up from time to time – which can take me a lot of evening and weekend hours to fix, there is not much time left in a day).

    Anyhow, thank you for always being there (for the animals – for the 'sled dogs' who are pretty low on the totem pole in AR) – for all the support.

    You are wonderful, immensely brave and special.


    December 25, 2008

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