FAIRBANKS - And then there were 57.
After an uneventful first half of the race that saw very little attrition among the 66 mushers who started the 2012 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, the past 24 hours have seen several mushers exit the race early.
The latest were front-runners Jake Berkowitz and four-time champion Jeff King. Berkowitz, who was running in sixth place, cut his hand badly on the trail between Kaltag and Unalakleet and was withdrawn by race officials. Berkowitz is being flown to Anchorage to see a surgeon. He cut his had deeply between his thumb and pointer finger, according to his official Facebook page.
King scratched this afternoon in Kaltag, as did Fort Yukon rookie Josh Cadzow. Cadzow said his team wasn't enjoying the trip, so he decided to end the race in the dogs' best interest. No reason has been given for King's exit.
Also out are Lachlan Clarke and Pat Moon, who both felt their teams were too small to continue the race. Clarke had eight dogs and Moon had seven in his team at Galena. Zoya DeNure scratched in Cripple because her dogs were ill. Also out are Wade Marrs, Ryan Redington and Silvia Furtwangler.