Musher Paul Gebhardt says he won't race the 2018 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race so he can focus on his health.
Gebhardt, 61, of Kasilof said he was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a blood cancer, about six weeks ago and started chemotherapy soon after. He said he had initially gone to the doctor in September after he fell off his horse and broke his ribs. About four hours later, he learned he also had cancer.
"My ribs started hurting in July," he said. "They were getting brittle."
Gebhardt announced his diagnosis and his decision to not race the 2018 Iditarod on Thursday on a fundraising website. Since he started competing in the Iditarod in 1996, he has missed the race only once before. Gebhardt placed 10th in the 2017 Iditarod, his eighth time placing in the race's top 10.
He said he plans to return to the Iditarod in 2019.
"By next training season I should be good to go — I hope, anyway," he said.
Gebhardt, who owns a general contracting business, said he loaned the core of his racing team to musher Ray Redington Jr.