Duluthian Gunnar Johnson was racing in the Iditarod in Alaska when he was yanked from the race due to testing positive for COVID.

The Pioneer Press is reporting that Gunnar Johnson, of Duluth, had to withdraw at the McGrath, Alaska, checkpoint, because of a positive COVID test. Friends of Gunner were reporting on his Facebook page that he was doing well, and after he was withdrawn, he made a comment that his dogs looked good and he was feeling optimistic. He had to send a backup in his place to finish the race.

The Pioneer Press said Iditarod Race Marshal Mark Nordman, working with epidemiologist Dr. Jodie Guest, said he was asymptomatic and according to the COVID-19 protocol set in place by the race officials, Johnson had to be removed from the race.

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The BBC reported that Johnson was extremely disappointed, and you would well imagine. I had spoken to Gunnar and he said it was more than him putting in the work, he had a team of people and the team of dogs that put in hard work

The BBC went on to say Johnson is not the first to withdraw from the Iditarod. Aliy Zirkle was forced to cut her dream short too, after suffering a concussion following a fall along the trail only two days into the race.

This was Gunnar Johson's third attempt to win the Iditarod Race and was having a strong showing as well as racing for a purpose. Gunnar was also working with organizations dealing with mental illness and suicide and was raising funds and awareness while training up in Alaska. You can see the website here.

If you or someone you know is in need of crisis intervention, call Alaska’s CARELINE anytime, any day of the year by dialing (877) 266-HELP, or dial 911. You can also text CARELINE advocates by sending “4HELP” to 839863.

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