Some of the dogs were fatigued and seemed to have a gastro-type of illness, said race director Ron Gordon. He said the mushers decided for the safety of the dogs to pull out of the race.
Those teams are in the process of arranging flights to get them back to their communities. The race veterinarian is sending blood samples south for analysis, Gordon added.
That leaves 11 teams in the race, which has also been affected by high winds and blowing snow.
"When we do plan this race we always expect to have some type of delay along the route," Gordon said.
This year's race route is one of the longer ones. The initial plan was to have the race, which began March 28 in Umiujaq, wrapped up before the Easter weekend. Now organizers are hoping to see the dog teams arrive at the finish line in Ivujivik on Apr. 15, with the closing ceremony April 16.
Gordon said they are expecting an exciting finish.
"The top 10 teams are within an hour of each other, so we are expecting a very interesting close race at the end."