The partner of Whitehorse musher Hans Gatt says he scratched from the Iditarod sled dog race because more than half of his dog team was sick.
Gatt was hoping for a top 10 finish in the 1,600-kilometre race but scratched Wednesday morning.
"He was really upset," said Susie Rogan, who was en route to Alaska when she heard the news.
She said she sensed there was trouble early in the race.
"First day they were doing great, fat and healthy and happy, and everything looked really good."
But as Rogan followed Gatt's team on the live tracker, she noticed they were travelling for only 50 or 70 kilometres before stopping for several hours. She said that's unusual, because training runs are longer than that.
"So I knew there was trouble."
Rogan said by the Nikolai checkpoint, about 425 kilometres into the race, 10 of Gatt's 16 dogs sick with diarrhea or not eating.
"They weren't super sick, but you can't ask a dog who's even a little sick to run another 750 miles [1,200 kilometres]," said Rogan. "And he'd already been babying them along."
Rogan has cancelled her plan to meet Gatt at the finish line in Nome, Alaska.
Still in the race is Tagish musher Michelle Phillips, currently in 18th position, and Whitehorse musher Rob Cooke, running in 66th place.
Today is the fifth day of the race. The winner is expected to reach the finish line by Monday.