One Oregonian out; Klamath county woman still racing in Iditarod


Cliff Roberson dropped out of the Iditarod race because of a cooking accident, his wife says. He lighted his propane stove, and it exploded.

"The cooker blew up in his face, and burned both of his eyes. He said it blasted so hard it almost knocked him over," Suzanne Roberson told the Corvallis Gazette-Times. "If he went back out and completed the race, he'd probably end up with permanent damage to his eyes."

She spoke to her husband on a satellite phone Wednesday afternoon.

Roberson, a 60-year-old neurosurgeon, had taken a five-month unpaid leave of absence from Good Samaritan Regional Medical Center to compete in the 1,200-mile Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race through the Alaskan wilderness.

After a ceremonial start on Saturday, the race began in earnest on Sunday.

The accident happened Wednesday at the Rohn checkpoint, about a tenth of the way through the route.

Roberson still had 15 dogs almost a full team when he decided to withdraw. At that time, a record field of 92 mushers remained in the running.

"He's extremely disappointed, but he said that it's not like it's a once-in-a lifetime experience," Suzanne Roberson said.

Another Oregon musher who had vowed to make it a once-in-a-lifetime experience remained in the race Friday afternoon.

Innkeeper Liz Parrish of Rocky Point in Klamath County was in 75th place, according to the race's Web site.

The Klamath Falls Herald and News reported that Parrish has been planning for a decade to compete.

"I've been told it's like having a year's worth of therapy condensed into two weeks," she told the paper.

The Anchorage Daily News reported that Parrish plans the race as her only Iditarod.

"I only have one 50th birthday, so I want to do it right," she said at the beginning of the race.

She moved from her home at Crystal Wood Lodge near Klamath Falls in the fall to train with Iditarod veteran Jamie Nelson in northern Minnesota.

The Anchorage paper said that Parrish has survived cancer, fibromyalgia and scioliosis, a painful curving of the spine that she said can make riding a dogsled uncomfortable.

"I draw inspiration from the toughness of these dogs as they continue to grow and tap into their potential," she wrote on her Web site. "No matter where we go, Iditarod or beyond, we live by the motto: "Quitting is not an option!"

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