Warm winter weather in Southcentral Alaska has claimed another mushing casualty.
Rookie Seward musher Sarah Stokey withdrew on Wednesday due to an inability to train on low snow. In a note posted to the Iditarod's Facebook page, Stokey said she was forced to withdraw after a plan to train her dogs farther north fell through.
Stokey, who trains with husband Travis Beals at Turning Heads Kennel, said the couple has only five miles of suitable trails in the coastal community of Seward. That plus a lack of snow meant a lot of traveling for the couple. Stokey, 26, said they've driven close to 20,000 miles to train since September.
"I don't mind traveling but we run our own business and managing that from the road has been almost impossible," she wrote. "I haven't done near enough training with my team for Iditarod, and the financial strain all this traveling has done has made preparing two sets of drop bags unrealistic."
So far, three others have withdrawn from the race, leaving the field at 78 mushers due to start the race March 7.