FILE - In this March 20, 2019, file photo, Iditarod musher Nicolas Petit, of France, poses with two of his dogs in Anchorage, Alaska. Nearly a third of the 57 mushers in this year’s Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race have quit the race before finishing, including Petit, who activated an alert button seeking rescue Thursday morning, March 19, 2020, because of weather conditions. (AP Photo/Mark Thiessen, File)

3 Iditarod mushers rescued because of poor trail conditions

March 20, 2020 - 10:45 pm
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Three mushers participating in Alaska’s Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race were rescued Friday after they activated their SOS beacons because of deep overflows of water on the trail near the last checkpoint before the finish line in Nome.

Even before the rescue of 52-year-old Tom Knolmayer, 28-year-old Sean Underwood and 37-year-old Matthew Failor, more than one-third of the participants in this year’s 1,000-mile (1609.3-kilometer) race had quit largely because of conditions. The winner, Thomas Waerner of Norway, arrived at the finish line in Nome early Wednesday.

Iditarod officials confirmed the three rescued Friday had officially withdrawn from the race. That brings the number of those who scratched to 22, short of the record of 24 set in 1980. In this year’s race, another musher also was removed for not being competitive.

Friday, the emergency beacons set off a rescue east of the mouth of the Solomon River, Alaska State troopers said in an online report.

The Iditarod said in a statement the conditions were created by high winds and warm conditions near the checkpoint of Safety, which is 22 miles (35 kilometers) from Nome.

The mushers were transported by helicopter to Nome, where they were taken to a hospital for medical clearance and were being released Friday afternoon, according to the Iditarod. The dog teams were in good condition and being brought to Nome, the Iditarod said.

Iditarod officials say that section of trail is being reworked so other teams still on the trail can proceed.

This year’s race started March 8 in Willow with 57 mushers before 22 quit. The earlier scratches include musher Nic Petit, a native of France living south of Anchorage who activated an alert button seeking rescue Thursday morning because of weather conditions.

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This story has been corrected to show 22 mushers scratched, not 23 or 20.

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