Teams passing each other on the trail are an integral part of sleddog racing. Passing rules have been put in place in the interests of safety and fairness.
There are two teams involved in passing – the passer and the team being passed.
At races, teams start at least 30 seconds apart. This means that the passer started their race at least 30 seconds after the person being passed. The passing team is travelling at a faster speed and therefore has right of way.
The passer must shout “trail” loudly so that the musher being passed can hear – remember they are facing away from the passer. The passer must shout “trail” well before they get close to the team being passed. This it to warn them so they are prepared for being passed and so they can have time to get off their scooter and hold their dogs off the trail if necessary.
The person being passed must give way to the passer, by moving to one side of the trail to not block the passing team. The person being passed should also slow down if needed to allow the passer to get by quickly.
If the person being passed cannot move to one side of the trail and keep themselves and their dogs safe and under control through verbal commands, they should stop and move themselves, their scooter and their dog(s) off to one side of the track. In doing this, the scooter should be positioned between their dogs and the other team if possible.
The person being passed should allow the passer to get away cleanly. The person being passed may need to slow down a little to do this.
If the passer’s dogs momentarily lose momentum or confidence after the pass, then the team being passed may not overtake the passer until at least 30 seconds or 200 meters after being overtaken [60 seconds or 400 meters for 3 & 4 dog teams], to allow the passer sufficient time to get by cleanly. Exception : if the passer has had to stop to untangle, repair equipment or has gone the wrong way the person who was passed may overtake the passer before the allowed time.
The last 500 meters of the race are known as “no man’s land” and is usually marked by a witches hat on the side of the trail. In “no man’s land”, the team being passed does not have to give way but must not block the other team. In the interests of fairness and safety, use common sense and courtesy should be exercised.