Veteran musher Cindy Gallea dropped out of the 2021 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race early Monday, about 80 miles into the competition.
Race officials said Gallea was sick, and her illness wasn’t related to COVID-19. She had all 14 dogs with her.
Gallea is a nurse practitioner from Minnesota who has started 15 Iditarods before, and crossed the finish line in 12 of them.
This year, Gallea faced hurdles getting to the Iditarod starting line, because of COVID-19 restrictions at the Canadian border. She ended up traveling last-minute to Alaska by plane with her dog team, and with the help of a local fundraising effort.
With Gallea’s scratch, 45 teams remain on the Iditarod trail.
There’s still a long way to go, but by late Monday afternoon, Skagway musher Ryan Redington had taken over the lead.
He left the Rohn checkpoint first at 4:11 p.m. with a 12-dog team. Big Lake’s Martin Buser left about 45 minutes later.
Meanwhile, some of the race’s top contenders like Nicolas Petit, Dallas Seavey and Aaron Burmeister opted to rest in Rohn, nearly 200 miles into the 850-mile race.
Related stories from around the North:
Canada: Alaska politicians send Trudeau letter saying they’re “shocked” over Canada’s COVID-19 cruise ship ban, Eye on the Arctic
Denmark/Greenland: Greenland authorities buoyed by high demand for COVID-19 vaccine, Eye on the Arctic
Iceland: Iceland institutes new COVID-19 border measures, Eye on the Arctic
Norway: Dogsled race in arctic Norway cancelled over COVID-19 fears, The Independent Barents Observer
Russia: Norway closes borders over fears of virus, but exempts Russian fishermen from severely infected border region, The Independent Barents Observer
Sweden: Swedes caught in Norway border limbo, Radio Sweden
United States: Changed by pandemic, Iditarod 2021 gets underway, Alaska Public Media