Fallout: The Financial Crisis

Dog-sled race has a little less bark

Mitchell Hartman Mar 6, 2009
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Fallout: The Financial Crisis

Dog-sled race has a little less bark

Mitchell Hartman Mar 6, 2009
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Steve Chiotakis: Seems there’s no escaping the fallout. Even the Iditarod — that 1,100-mile dog-sled race across the Alaskan tundra — is hurting. Competitors and prize money are melting away. And the race kicks off tomorrow. Here’s Marketplace’s Mitchell Hartman.


Mitchell Hartman: There will be 67 teams mushing through whiteouts and deep freezes this year from Anchorage to Nome. That’s a third fewer than in 2008. And the top prize is down to just over $600,000 dollars. Last year it was nearly a million. The Iditarod’s organizers say costs are up for everything from vets to bush-plane flights.

University of Alaska professor Brian O’Donoghue ran the race in 1991 and wrote a book about it called: “My Lead Dog was a Lesbian.” He’s seen competitors’ costs rising as well.

BRIAN O’DONOGHUE: We are on the end of the line in terms of supply chain. Dog food, gasoline, all of it has really risen in price and made operating a kennel more expensive.

The pros keep as many as 50 dogs in training year-round. O’Donoghue had half that many.

O’DONOGHUE: It was like getting a pay increase when we did finally sell our dog team.

O’Donoghue was never exactly at the front of the pack, by the way. The year he ran the Iditarod, he finished dead last.

I’m Mitchell Hartman for Marketplace.

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