ExxonMobil will discontinue sponsorship after the 2021 race, which starts each year on the first Saturday of March. The 49th edition will take place this year. Animal rights organization PETA has strongly criticized the race and sponsors such as ExxonMobil for being forced to keep running until they drop from exhaustion. According to the opponents, the dogs are also exposed to dangerous conditions.
The oil company had sponsored Iditarod since 1978. Alaska Airlines and the large bank Wells Fargo also withdrew as sponsors earlier. The organizers of Iditarod and the “mushers,” the drivers of the sledges pulled by polar dogs, contradict the criticism. They say there are many volunteer veterinarians standing by and the dogs undergo a thorough medical examination before the race.
Incidentally, the race has been shortened a lot this year due to the corona crisis. Now it is 860 miles long, almost 1400 kilometers. Normally Iditarod is a 1,000 mile trip from Anchorage to Nome.
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