Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race could permit two-way communication devices for first time

    There have been reports that the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race will change dramatically in 2017, permitting two-way communication devices on the trail for the first time.

    There have been reports that the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race will change dramatically in 2017, permitting two-way communication devices on the trail for the first time.

    In a video posting, musher Wade Marrs said the change appeared related to a tragedy on the trail last year, when a snow machiner allegedly rammed two mushers, killing one of Jeff King's dogs: "You know like last year, with the snowmobile incident, somebody could have gotten on a phone and called ahead and had some help brought out to them immediately, maybe Aliy Zirkle could have got on the phone and had another snow machiner out before the Jeff King thing happened."

    Four-time champion (and reigning winner) Dallas Seavey agreed there could be a place for safety and emergency communication devices, but was opposed to the idea of coaching during the race: "It would seriously change how we run the race and what it takes to be competitive in the race and what the race looks like from a day-to-day basis from a musher perspective. What we do in a day would change and the things that we think about would change and our attention would be not necessarily on this dog right now, what do I know? But more on what information can I get? Can I get a hold of this person? Oh, I've got a friend in this checkpoint, maybe they can tell me something."

    The Alaska Dispatch reports specific details of the rule changes have not yet been publicly released. Seavey and Marrs said they were waiting to read the rules before taking firm positions, but were overall reluctant to see a shift in the nature of the Iditarod.

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