‘Ice Maidens’ Shame Iditarod Mushers by Crossing Antarctica Dog-Free

Published by Zachary Toliver.

A group of British soldiers has successfully become the first all-female team to cross Antarctica on human power alone. Iditarod enthusiasts, take note: This trailblazing feat was accomplished without harming, exploiting, or killing any dogs.

In 62 days—traveling nearly 27 miles per day in temperatures as low as 40 degrees below zero—the Ice Maidens successfully crossed 1,065 miles of treacherous landscape. Using only skis and their own strength, they dragged sledges laden with equipment weighing roughly 176 pounds each.


These women did something that Iditarod mushers could only dream about. If it weren’t for the dogs—who are commonly starved, beaten, kept on chains for life, injured, doped up, and sometimes killed—cowardly mushers wouldn’t know how to cross the 1,000-mile Alaskan terrain.

We need a new Iditarod that celebrates the trail’s history instead of doping and killing dogs.

Whether it’s with skis, snowshoes, or snowmobiles, the Iditarod must become a human-powered event, in which true athletes like this British troop are cheered on and congratulated for their iron will. PETA notes that former whaling towns in New England no longer harpoon and kill majestic whales but still make a fortune by selling souvenirs and offering historic tours—and residents of Mataelpino, Spain, now run from giant polystyrene balls instead of the traditionally used bulls. By removing dogs from the race, the Iditarod could similarly capitalize on Alaska’s history without harming any huskies.

More than 150 dogs have been killed since the race began in 1973.

That’s more than three per year, and that’s just the reported number. It doesn’t include dogs who died immediately after the race or during training. The actual number of deaths associated with the race has to be much higher. And countless other dogs have sustained injuries.

These mistreated animals are subjected to biting winds, blinding snowstorms, subzero temperatures, and the risk of falling through treacherous ice into frigid waters. Many who don’t die in the race sustain permanent damage of some kind. According to a report from the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, at least 80 percent of dogs who’ve finished the Iditarod have sustained lung damage.

Many more die before the event even begins. Thousands of dogs are bred to compete, but those who are deemed not fast or fit enough are usually killed—including by being bludgeoned, shot, or drowned. Those used for the race spend much of their lives in cramped kennels, where many are kept tethered on short ropes or chains, barking incessantly and desperate to be set free.

Learn more about the Iditarod on The PETA Podcast:

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Help PETA End the Cruel Iditarod

Dogs don’t deserve a lifetime of isolation, cruelty, suffering, and death so that someone can win a prize purse. More than ever, the public agrees that animals shouldn’t be forced to participate in a “sport” that not only fails to benefit them in any way but also harms them. But we still have work to do. Until officials transform this race into a human-powered event, please stand with PETA against the deadly Iditarod:

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 Ingrid E. Newkirk

“Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights?” READ MORE

— Ingrid E. Newkirk, PETA President and co-author of Animalkind