May 2, 2004
Outside Magazine
Outside magazine, March 1996

By Todd Balf and Paul Kvinta (with Brian Alexander and Steve Law)

Organizers of the embattled Iditarod International Sled Dog Race say they expect a near-record 73 mushers at the starting line this month. Among the entrants will be 20 rookie mushers and at least one "lucky" nonmusher who paid upward of $4,000 in a telephone auction for the privilege of serving as ballast during the all-but-staged opening in downtown Anchorage. The Iditarod Trail Committee says the big field reflects the health of the race--and the failed impact of the Humane Society's protests over dog mistreatment--despite the loss of many of its largest corporate sponsors and its network TV deal. But this year the ITC has had an even bigger problem: a dearth of snow that forced the cancellation of early-season warm-up races and left mushers no choice but to train by hitching their teams to the front of ATVs.

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