ANCHORAGE (KTUU) - Two veteran Iditarod mushers arrived in Nome via helicopter rather than by dogsled Friday afternoon after one came upon the other in dire conditions.
Scott Janssen, nicknamed “The Mushin’ Mortician,” came across 77-year-old Jim Lanier between the checkpoints of White Mountain and Safety in an area known as the Blowhole. Lanier’s “team was stuck and Jim was starting to freeze,” wrote Janssen’s support team on Facebook Friday afternoon.
The post says Janssen “stayed with his friend until they were rescued and he chose to accompany his friend to Nome to make sure he was safe.”
Due to that decision, Janssen too had to scratch from Iditarod 2018.
"I met Jim and Scott at the Nome airport when they arrived by helicopter and they are with their loved ones and also in good health," said the Iditarod's race director Mark Nordman. He explained both dog teams are "currently being mushed to Nome."
The two mushers were in 42nd and 43rd place before the incident, Lanier and Janssen spent their 8-hour layovers at White Mountain and departed just over two hours apart, with Lanier leaving at 11:17 p.m. Thursday, and Janssen departing at 1:37 a.m.
Lanier has scratched out of the last three Iditarod races he's run, in 2014, 2015 and 2016.
Janssen has scratched out of the Iditarod four times in the past.
In 2014, Janssen had another high profile experience scratching out of Iditarod for a medical emergency. That year saw little snow and 20 mushers scratched. Janssen suffered a concussion going through the Dalzell Gorge – there was little snow that year – and then broke his leg when he fell through the ice on a creek. In that case, fellow musher Newton Marshall stayed with Janssen until help arrived.
This article was updated to include information about Janssen and Lanier's dog teams