TAKOTNA -- Four-time champion Doug Swingley scratched from the Iditarod Trial Sled Dog race Wednesday, saying he had frozen his corneas along a treacherous part of the trail.
The 50-year-old Lincoln, Mont., musher said he injured his eyes when he took off his goggles because they were fogging up going down the Dalzell Gorge two days ago coming into Rohn, he said. Subzero temperatures blurred his vision.
"Then I took a stick in the eye because I couldn't see it coming," said Swingley, who is also a pilot.
The problem has worsened since.
"I came in here blind in one eye," Swingley said Wednesday, sitting at the table reserved for mushers at the Takotna lodge checkpoint, 694 miles from the Nome finish line. "It isn't getting any better."
Thirty-eight miles farther up the trail, three-time Iditarod winner Jeff King of Denali Park was the first musher out of the Ophir checkpoint Wednesday morning.
Four-time winner Martin Buser of Big Lake was right behind, departing seven minutes later. In the third position was John Baker of Kotzebue.