Sabotage is a long standing tradition of the CHIditarod. In fact, without it, we’d be just another lame ol’ boring pub crawl. …not really, that was just for the sake of dramatization, but we certainly would be missing an element that keeps the race… interesting.
Each year, CHIditarod happily gains popularity and welcomes newcomers. A result of this growth is that more unsuspecting folks become potential ‘easy targets’ for saboteurs. Due to a couple of recent complaints and numerous discussions with pups of sabotage inflicted teams, we began questioning “is racing experience, or lack of, a factor?” Wanting to capture a better picture of the CHIditarod experience and hoping to learn how to make things more EPIC, we emailed a post-race survey to members of the CHIditarod VI teams. The following report was generated from those survey responses, focusing on: 1) the responders’ years of participation in the CHIditarod, and 2) the relationship between a racer’s level of experience and the likelihood that they dished out or received sabotage.
It has charts and stuff.
Behold: The 2011 CHIditarod Sabotage Report.
We are able to draw two general conclusions from this analysis.
Conclusion 1: Newbies Beware! Every year, there are a handful of first-time racers who leave the race completely bummed out because of some sabotage that occurred that they felt was mean-spirited or highly un-sportsman-like. As organizers, our suspicions are that these disappointments are largely rooted in the fact that many first-time racers don’t know what to expect on race day. Sabotage requires that people be clever and creative, and these are traits that we try to encourage in all aspects of the race. The best way you can help you and your teammates avoid such disappointment on race day is to educate yourselves about what to expect, come to the race day prepared for sabotage, and try to roll with the punches, if they happen to come—and there is about a 56% chance that they will.
If you are running the CHIditarod for the first time, prepare yourself. Read the CHIditarod Handbook. Bring your box of tools to the race. Many teams bring box cutters and bolt cutters to the race with them in order to free up their cart if it has been compromised. Be aware that check-points are havens for opportunistic sabotage. NEVER LEAVE YOUR CART UNATTENDED. Your shopping cart is a rambunctious youth that needs tough-love parenting skills. Keep it on a short leash. Otherwise, who knows what trouble it could get into.
Conclusion 2: We have created a monster! (Raawwr! Monster…rawwr!) It seems clear from these survey results—most particularly from the number of first-time racers that participate in dishing out sabotage—that the culture of sabotage at the CHIditarod has developed a life of its own. It is firmly rooted in the greater CHIditarod-involved population of Chicago, not just the core organizers. In other words, we, as organizers, are no longer steering the culture of sabotage; rather, we are always racing (ha!) to keep up with it as it plows ahead of us and changes over time. We do all that we can to ensure fair game play. We do all that we can to ensure that no one gets hurt physically or emotionally. Respect for our entire community and all of its members is the primary motivator behind the Chiditarod. But we can’t control everything. We can’t control everybody. Despite our best efforts, we can’t ensure that everyone at the race has the same idea about fair game play, or that everyone at the race has the same idea of what respect looks like. The Chiditarod is an ever-changing, ever-evolving event. Its success relies on our ability to get along with each other and to make room for disagreement to exist and be resolved. Let’s face it. We’re a huge group of diverse people. There will sometimes be disagreements.
But always keep in mind:
- We do this for our fellow Chicagoans who suffer from food insecurity.
- We do this together because we are stronger together, as a community, than we are as individuals.
- We do this for each other and with each other because we are all equally rad.
- It’s all in good fun!
- Buck up, campers, and keep being excellent to each other. Mush!