Minnesota musher Cindy Gallea drops out of Iditarod, Redington takes lead

Two mushers and their dogs.
Jessie Holmes travels on the Susitna River in front of Cindy Gallea and Rick Casillo during the start of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Sunday, March 7, 2021. (Bill Roth / ADN)

Veteran musher Cindy Gallea dropped out of the 2021 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race early Monday, about 80 miles into the competition.

Race officials said Gallea was sick, and her illness wasn’t related to COVID-19. She had all 14 dogs with her.

Gallea is a nurse practitioner from Minnesota who has started 15 Iditarods before, and crossed the finish line in 12 of them.

RELATED: Follow all of our coverage of the 2021 Iditarod here.

This year, Gallea faced hurdles getting to the Iditarod starting line, because of COVID-19 restrictions at the Canadian border. She ended up traveling last-minute to Alaska by plane with her dog team, and with the help of a local fundraising effort.

RELATED: COVID-19 testing, face masks and a smaller crowd: An Iditarod like no other gets underway

With Gallea’s scratch, 45 teams remain on the Iditarod trail.

There’s still a long way to go, but by late Monday afternoon, Skagway musher Ryan Redington had taken over the lead.

He left the Rohn checkpoint first at 4:11 p.m. with a 12-dog team. Big Lake’s Martin Buser left about 45 minutes later.

Meanwhile, some of the race’s top contenders like Nicolas Petit, Dallas Seavey and Aaron Burmeister opted to rest in Rohn, nearly 200 miles into the 850-mile race. 

RELATED: Take a listen to the first episode of this year’s Iditapod podcast: Mission Iditarod, COVID Protocol

Tegan Hanlon is the deputy digital editor at Alaska Public Media. Reach her at thanlon@alaskapublic.org.

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