It’s wrong to make a promise and not fulfill it.
Mike McCowan knows this.
And he’s right.
McCowan used to be the Yukon Quest International Sled Dog Race marshal until he was unceremoniously sacked last winter. (The organization didn’t even have the guts to tell him.)
The race marshal is responsible for the race from the pre-race mushers’ meeting until the finish banquet — he’s the guy on the hot seat.
So McCowan knows the rules.
And, according to him, the Quest organization is breaking them.
The race is dependent on two things: race competitors who honestly believe their dogs are better than the other drivers. And a trail.
The competitors are policed to ensure they keep up their end, looking after their dogs.
The Quest has to ensure there is a trail.
And it hasn’t, said McCowan.
It knew the Yukon River stretch on the Alaskan side was “sucking eggs,” he said.
Instead, it cried poverty and did nothing.
The result was a treacherous trail that increased injuries to mushers and dogs.
And that’s unacceptable.
There’s no excuse.
McCowan even offered to waive his $1,500 marshal stipend so the organization would have more money for the trail.
Instead, they nixed the idea.
And fired him.
“They said they didn’t have the money (for the trail),” he said. “But anything becomes a priority if you make it a priority.”
Mushers must agree to the rules and sign them.
The Quest must do the same.
Race rule No. 3 states, “The trail will be broken and marked prior to the race.”
This year, it wasn’t. Quest officials knew it. And it sent the teams off anyway.
Race officials can’t hold competitors to the rules and then willingly ignore them when it’s convenient.
A rule is a rule.
And the Quest ignores them at its peril. (RM)