FORT KENT, Maine — By mid-morning Tuesday, 17 of the 24 mushers entered in this year’s Can Am Crown Sled Dog race had crossed the finish line in Fort Kent. Seven others had dropped out along the way.
Caroline Morin of Ste-Helen-de-Bagot, Quebec, was the last musher to arrive at Lonesome Pine Ski Hill at 10:44 a.m.
The top teams had arrived more than 24 hours earlier, led by this year’s winner and 2006 CAC top finisher, Matt Carstens of Whitefield, N.H.
Back on the trails between Portage and Allagash seven other teams had pulled out due to equipment and dog problems.
In all, 78 teams took off down the start chute Saturday morning for the Can Am’s 30- 60- and 250-mile events.
Drivers and dogs came from around New England, the Midwest, Oregon, Quebec, Nova Scotia and Ontario.
Only a handful of Maine mushers participated this year with Don Hibbs of Millinocket and Larry Murphy of Fort Kent in the Can-Am Crown 250. In the Can-Am Crown 60 there was Lindy Howe of Stockholm, Mike Paradis of Fort Kent and Kasey McCarty of New Portland. Racing from Maine in the 30-mile race were Amy Delano of Troy, Mihnea Tanasescu of Mount Desert, Caroline Blair-Smith and Andy Bartlett of Albany Township, Terry Knowles of Brownville, Dennis Cyr of Fort Kent, Kevin Quist of Stockholm, Jean Perron and Jillian Perron of New Vineyard and Maggie Wey of Phillips.
Friday’s rain and dropping temperatures on Saturday made for a hard and fast trail leaving Fort Kent with mushers posting some fast times.
“That was crazy fun,” Paradis said after coming in 19th at the CAC 60 on Saturday. “The dogs did great and ended happy.”
Earlier that day the second-place finisher in the 30-mile race had her own impression of the trail conditions.
“I didn’t have time to look at the scenery,” Quebec musher Genevieve Telmosse, the 2008 CAC winner said. “The trail was so hard (packed) it was not hard to beat my time from last year.”
Despite the hard trails and fast speeds, organizers say there were few problems on the trails.
Musher Andy Benkendorf was forced to scratch after crashing his sled and a reported respiratory virus forced four-time CAC 250 winner Martin Massicotte to pull out at Allagash.
Jim Marquis is the volunteer in charge of Can-Am search and rescue and it’s his job to make sure all those teams arrive safely at the next checkpoint along the trail.
“This year was pretty quiet,” Marquis said Tuesday morning. “We only had one incident on the trail compared to having to go out and find and assist two mushers last year who got stuck in a snowstorm.”
This year Marquis and fellow volunteer Can-Am President Peter Sirois were staffing a safety station along the CAC 60 trail when a team with no musher came through.
The two men caught and secured the team before dispatching a third volunteer on snowmobile to locate the musher.
Six miles down the trail CAC 60 musher Bill Tofte was found heading down the trail on foot. Soon after, he was reunited with his team.
When CAC 250 musher Bruce Langmaid scratched on the trail between the Maibec and Allagash checkpoints, it was Marquis’ crew of volunteers who coordinated the efforts to bring the dogs on rescue sleds to the nearest logging road and to the waiting dog handlers.
With 16 search and rescue volunteers scattered along the active portions of the race route help, Marquis said, is never far away.
“The more bored we are, the better it is,” he joked. “But we are ready to go out in any kind of weather if we are needed.”
During the down times, Marquis said the volunteers have come up with some creative ways to stay warm.
“I have two guys, Wayne Gagne and Hank Baumgartner from coastal Maine, who bring a big tent, plywood for the floor, cots and table,” he said. “They have a nice fire and play cards.”
On another section of trail lucky search and rescue operators have full access to the Jalbert Camps on Round Pond, compliments of owner Phyllis Jalbert, sponsor of the Willard Jalbert Jr. CAC 60.
In all, a $40,000 purse was up for grabs among the three races, including $1,000 in stage prizes for the fastest times between the CAC 250 checkpoints and the “Finishing Touch,” $4,000 divided equally among all teams completing the CAC 250.
Cash and awards were handed out at the CAC banquet Tuesday evening.
FINAL CAN-AM RACE TIMES
Can-Am Crown 250
Matt Carstens, Whitefield, N.H., 27 hours, 7 minutes, 45 seconds; Jason Barron, Lincoln, Mont., 27:39:13; Rita Wehseler, Tofte, Minn., 29:34:37; Dennis Trembley, St-Michel des Saints, Quebec, 29:42:11; Don Hibbs, Millinocket 29:43:05; Claude Baril, St-Zenon, Quebec, 30:38:30; Rene Marchildon, South River, Ontario, 30:38:57; Blake Freking, Finland, Minn., 31:12:15; Andre Longshamps, Pont-Rouge, Quebec, 31:48:23; Christine Richardson, Ca-naan, N.H., 32:14:00; Jennifer Freking, Finland, Minn., 33:44:54; Mitch Ingerson, Jefferson, N.H., 38:51:54; Zackary Colby, Lunenburg, Vt., 38:52:09; Al Hardman, Ludington, Mich., 40:54:35; Hank Debruin, Haliburton, Ontario, 51:44:30; Ed Obrecht, Ladysmith, Quebec, 51:44:31; Caroline Morin, Ste-Helene-de-Bagot, Quebec, 57:58:06; Martin Massicotte, St-Tite, Quebec, DNF; Bruce Langmaid, Blackstock, Ontario, DNF; Gavin Baker, Almonte, Ontario, DNF; Sylvain Robillard, St-Gabriel De Brandon, Quebec, DNF; Todd Sullivan, Lanark, Ontario, DNF; Larry Murphy, Fort Kent, DNF; Andy Benkendorf, Mine Hill, N.J., DNF.
Willard Jalbert Jr. Can-Am 60
Sylvain Voyer, St-Donat-de-Rimouski, Quebec, 5 hours, 7 minutes, 24 seconds; Dave Turner, Sandy, Ore., 5:09:11; Alan Ricalton, Natural Bridge, N.Y., 5:30:11; Amelie Aubut, Pont-Rouge, Quebec, 5:33:25; Eric Chagnon, Parent, Quebec, 5:36:16; Paul Boudreau, L’Assomption, Quebec, 5:51:19; Jake Golton, L’Amable, Ontario, 5:56:11; Marie-Eve Drouin, Metabechoan-Lac-ala-Croix, Quebec, 5:58:19; Adam Cummings, White River Junction, Vt., 6:00:22; Kathy Lesinski, Broad Brook, Conn., 6:18:53; Eli Golton, L’Amable, Ontario, 6:25:44; Rhonda OHearn, Sandown, N.H., 6:26:06; Marc Alain, St Etienne des Gres, Quebec, 6:26:32; Shawn Linendoll, Fort Ann, N.Y., 6:27:38; Debbie Knight, Grafton, Ontario, 6:54:00; John Miller, Sandyston, N.J., 6:56:37; Lindy Howe, Stockholm, 7:03:31; Bill Wehseler, Tofte, Minn., 7:05:34; Mike Paradis, Fort Kent, 7:11:39; Wesley Baum, Dryden, N.Y., 7:27:55; Kasey McCarty, New Portland, 8:04:00; Rob Cooke, Shubenacadie, Nova Scotia, 8:34:19; Ingrid Bower, Underhill, Vt., 8:39:43.
Can-Am Crown 30
Diane Marquis, St-Hugues, Quebec, 2 hours, 15 minutes, 37 seconds; Genevieve Telmosse, Val-Des-Lacs, Quebec, 2:16:50; Rico Portalatin, Westhampton, Mass., 2:31:06; Valerie Fuchs, Auclair, Quebec, 2:34:10; Amy Delano, Troy, 2:36:35; Johanne Cloutier, Edmundston, New Brunswick, 2:44:20; Kathy MacKay, Parishville, N.Y., 2:46:31; Claudette Blouin, St-Hugues, Quebec, 2:47:45; Shane Cox, Marmora, Ontario, 2:48:30; Mihnea Tanasescu, Mount Desert, 2:50:35; Caroline Blair-Smith, Albany Township, 3:05:42;
David Punch, Orange, Conn., 3:06:19; Scott Alexander, Sanbornton, N.H., 3:09:22; Gino Roussel, St-Jacques, New Brunswick, 3:27:52; Terry Knowles, Brownville, 3:34:00; Lidia Dale-Mesaros, Campton, N.H., 3:39:37; Dennis Cyr, Fort Kent, 3:41:09; Al Tarr, Gibsonia, Pa., 3:41:19; Jake Wile, Peterborough, N.H., 3:47:30; Corina Alexander, Sanbornton, N.H., 3:52:47; Kevin Quist, Stockholm, 3:52:50; Brendon Block, Antrim, N.H., 3:58:11; Louise Cooke, Shubenacadie, Nova Scotia, 4:08:45; Raymond Belanger, Lowell, Mass., 4:13:49; Tanya McCready, Haliburton, Ontario, 4:17:47; Nick Van Drimmelen, Jericho Center, Vt., 4:26:28; Jean Perron, New Vineyard, 4:29:25; Maggie Wey, Phillips, 5:00:15; Jillian Perron, New Vineyard, DNF; Andy Bartlett, Albany Township, DNF