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After Injury, Keith Scratches from Yukon Quest — But Keeps Iditarod in Her Sights

Katherine Keith

On Monday, Kotzebue veteran musher Katherine Keith left the 2018 Yukon Quest trail earlier than planned.

Following some medical attention and appointments in Fairbanks, Keith was able to share more about the injury that caused her to scratch from the race, once she reached the Circle checkpoint. Keith says that somewhere on the trail between Central and Circle, going around a sharp turn, her sled fell over, and she must have landed on her wrist.

“And usually when you’re racing like that you don’t really pay too much attention to the bumps and bruises. So I knew that something was off, but you just keep going and deal with it. But it was like a 74-mile run, and as it went on, it became more and more painful, and I could feel, like, the heat spreading on the arm, and I couldn’t really move it anymore or put my gloves on. So it just became kind of a difficult run.”

Despite her broken wrist, Keith says she ended up carrying one of her dogs on the way into the checkpoint.

Of course, being a longtime musher, she is no stranger to dealing with injuries on the trail, but Keith says leaving this year’s Quest early was not a good feeling:

“I’ve always been able to continue though, like sprained-ankle kind of thing or frozen fingers, and usually, you can manage through that. You just get into the mental state, ‘keep going and finish the race.’ And I guess the issue here was, without being able to use the arm and not being sure of totally what happened, it wasn’t really a good decision (to continue). I do keep second guessing myself, could I just have taped it up really well, toughed it out, and kept going?”

According to Quest staff, rookie musher Christine Roalofs, the latest one to scratch from this year’s Yukon Quest sled dog race, was also dealing with a personal injury when she made the decision to stop. Given the nature of the sport, sled dog mushers must sometimes heal in short periods of time before they’re back on the trail again.

For Keith, she says this setback should not affect her ability to run her next race in about a month from now.

“I do expect to be able to continue forward to the Iditarod, and I’m just getting some advice here from the Fairbanks sports medicine place, doing a CAT scan on what we need to do to rehab it as quickly as possible, so we can get out there on the trail. But it is a month away, thankfully, so I’ll have plenty of time to get it strong again and be able to race, and the dogs are looking for a chance to do their thing.”

The Kotzebue musher expressed her thanks to all her fans and those who have continued to support her. Keith still has a few medical duties to tend to before she returns to Kotzebue and turns her focus towards next month’s Iditarod.

Image at top: file photo: Katherine Keith during the 2014 Iditarod. Photo: David Dodman, KNOM.