Duluth's Gunnar Johnson was running well in the Iditarod and was pulled from the race after testing positive for COVID-19, that was a hard pill to swallow.

So, Gunnar felt he had to see a counselor to process the whole thing. He says in a Facebook post that he had a lot to deal with after putting so much work into the race not to mention friends, his team, dogs, trainers, and mentally having to stop and accept it was over.

The counselor said he needs to remember it was a good winter and he has a lot to be thankful for. Another thing the counselor suggested was to run one more race before the season was over so he could get it out of his mind and end it on a high note and maybe on his terms a little more.

When he started to think about it and talk with people, they all got behind him. He said in his Facebook post that everyone pulled together as a team to "pull off a logistically complicated race in a highly compacted time frame".

Gunnar says right after he was recovering from the Iditarod they all started to put together a run for the Kobuk 440 or otherwise known as the K440. It's above the Arctic Circle, so it's cold, and it runs through unfamiliar land that Gunnar has never seen before which is going to present a challenge. 12 mushers instead of 10 and a whole bunch of past winners, so that is another challenge.

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Gunnar says the race starts on Friday, April 2nd (which is later than it was supposed to run because of a major blizzard that shut down the area). That sounds like another challenge for the teams in the cold and unpredictable weather.

Gunnar said on his Facebook page, he isn't even there yet because the weather is not allowing Alaska Airlines passenger planes to land.  He is running 12 of the dogs from the Iditarod, so that will provide some closure. Gunnar said he is looking forward to the race because the people that are a part of it are wonderful.

Good luck Gunnar, we will follow you at Kobuk440.com.

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