Mistaken SOS accidentally withdraws musher from Yukon Quest

Yukon Quest race marshal says the error will not affect Cathry's race and it's something the Quest can learn from.

‘Internal miscommunication’ leads race organizers to believe Severin Cathry sent SOS signal

Musher Severin Cathry is back in the Yukon Quest after he was accidentally withdrawn due to a "miscommunication" among race officials. (Archive)

Yukon Quest organizers received a distress call from musher Severin Cathry last Thursday — or at least they thought they did.

It turns out Cathry had activated the SOS button on his race-tracking device approximately 30 kilometres outside of Eagle, Alaska, Yukon Quest announced last Friday. In a news release, organizers said trailbreakers, EMT and veterinarians arrived on scene soon after receiving the signal, only to find Cathry was healthy, safe and intended to make his way toward Dawson City.

According to Yukon Quest race rules, mushers must withdraw when activating their race button. As a result, Cathry was out of the race. 

"In a post-incident review due to Cathry's performance on the trail, race marshal Doug Harris contacted trackleaders to confirm the call for assistance and was informed no SOS was ever sent by Cathry," said a news release from Quest organizers hours later.

Harris spoke to CBC Saturday morning, "We checked with the SPOT company just to make sure there had in fact been a distress button pushed."

"They advised they had no record of it ... so what we're gonna do now is we'll have a post-mortem on that to learn how that occurred, be it human error or technical error."

Harris called what happened an "unfortunate situation," but it won't affect Cathry's race. His ejection from the race has since been withdrawn.

"It's something that the Quest organization can learn from," he said.

With files from Marc Winkler