Gebhardt not penalized for using snowmachine

Posted: Friday, March 10, 2006

Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race officials decided not to penalize Kasilof musher Paul Gebhardt for borrowing a snowmachine to track down his team during the race.

While race rules prohibit outside assistance, Chas St. George, director of public relations for the Iditarod, said rules also stipulate that a musher do everything possible to secure his or her team should it break loose during the race.

“He was within the rules with what he did. He used whatever means possible in terms of what was in the best interest and safety of his athletes,” St. George said.

Gebhardt was leading the race on Tuesday when he crashed into a tree approaching Farewell Lake, between the Rohn and Nikolai checkpoints. The collision snapped his gangline, and Gebhardt’s team continued down the trail without the musher and sled. After following on foot for a couple of hours, Gebhardt was given a lift by fellow competitor Doug Swingley, who dropped him off with a group of buffalo hunters. Gebhardt borrowed a snowmachine and tracked down his team about 10 miles past Farewell Lake. After securing his team, Gebhardt went back to retrieve his sled.

Several mushers have had ganglines break during this year’s race. A gangline is the main line to which dogs are hitched to pull the sled.

— Will Morrow

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