February 22, 2004



If you're a dog musher who got lost four years ago during a race, the last thing you want to read in a story abour your current campaign is this lede:

Chalk up another disappearing act for Rod Boyce, the Fairbanks musher who made headlines four years ago when he was lost for five days during the Tustumena 200 sled dog race.

That's right, my buddy Rod went AWOL - again - for a few hours this weekend during the Yukon Quest.

There's no explanation for his disappearance in the story that ran on the wires. He simply appears to have taken an exorbitant amount of time getting from one checkpoint to another 100 miles away. At the moment, he's taking his 36 hour layover in Dawson City, which each of the mushers are required to take.

From the looks of this elevation chart, Rod has only one major mountain summit remaining to cross - but it's the tallest one yet.


It could be worse. He could have a broken leg like William Kleedehn.

To get a gauge on what kind of personality undertakes a 1,000-mile race from Fairbanks to Whitehorse, Canada, read this story from the Whitehorse Star about Kleedehn's injury:

Injured musher buoyed by good wishes

by Jason Small

“I’m first into Whitehorse.”

William Kleedehn laughs at his joke but he is right — he is the first musher in the 2004 Yukon Quest to arrive in Whitehorse. The problem is, he didn’t arrive at the race’s finish line.

Instead, Kleedehn is sitting in a bed at Whitehorse General Hospital, where doctors have been monitoring his broken left leg above where he normally wears a prosthesis.

The broken leg is what Kleedehn has to show from this year’s edition of the 1,600-km sled dog race from Fairbanks to Whitehorse.

Last Sunday morning, Kleedehn was running at the front of the pack as he was making his way toward the Mile 101 stop 220 kilometres into the race.

Kleedehn was just five kilometres outside of the stop. The trail on the way into Mile 101 was littered with sections of bare ice mushers call glaciers.

The veteran musher hit one of these glaciers where the trail was sloped sideways.

“I was just sliding down and sideways a little bit and needed to stop that. So, somehow I just slipped and I was falling back with the sled in my hand,” Kleedehn said.

“The left foot, or the prosthesis, got hung up in the sled a little bit, momentarily and I fell back.”

Kleedehn’s prosthesis, which he wears because he lost his lower left leg in a motorcycle crash in his native Germany when he was a teenager, is below his knee.

The problem for Kleedehn is his knee can only bend about 35 degrees. To bend the leg any more, he’s able to pull the leg slightly out of the prosthesis, but it is strapped to his body.

“I got hung up and my leg was down in the prosthesis because I put just weight for sliding down and I fell back. The whole combination was just good enough, boom, leg broke.”

He figures because the leg broke because it was able to come out of the prosthesis slightly.

Last year’s runner-up in the Quest knew right away he had a big problem.
His dogs knew to take the sled off the ice and back on to solid trail. In absolute agony, Kleedehn was able to get the hook into the snow.

“I never let go of that sled,” said Kleedehn, even though it was flipped on its side.

With the sled stopped and tied down, the dogs eventually laid down and Kleedehn tried to relax and find a position that didn’t hurt much.

He was waiting for another musher to come along or someone to spot him from the highway, which was not far from where the team had stopped.

Kleedehn was initially spotted after about 15 minutes by assistant race manager Wendel Carey, who was driving on the road in a pickup truck.

Officials sent a snowmachine out just to take Kleedehn off the trail to the highway and into the truck.

Kleedehn said he was lucky this happened during a race and not on a training run when he’s out on his own.

“A race is easy — there’s always someone looking out for you.”

Posted by Jeff at February 22, 2004 09:21 PM | TrackBack