“It’s a tough loss, to be sure,” said Ulsom, who eventually finished 15th. “A good pit crew can change a flat dog in less than 6 seconds, but it’s nearly impossible to do alone.”
Ulsom was forced to finish the race using his spare dog – an Austrian Schnauzer – which is only meant for short distances. While Ulsom doesn’t believe there was any foul play, Iditarod officials aren’t so sure.
“This is just like back in 1987 when Terry Vitrine tried to give himself an edge by pumping his dogs full of an illegal high octane gasoline,” said Iditarod official Sarah Matheson. “Course, that killed all his dogs immediately but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t cheating.”
Other mushers are less diplomatic about what they view as a rash of unsportsmanlike behaviour.
“Some of these guys don’t care about honour at all,” said musher Mitch Seavey. “Last year I caught a guy tampering with my sled, telling all my huskies they were bad dogs. They’re just into dogsledding for the glory.”
Ulsom’s finish is his worst since 2007 when he was forced to compete with labradoodles after forgetting to change out his all-season dogs for winter ones.