Weather a factor in this year’s Can Am 250

By Julia Bayly, BDN Staff
Posted March 06, 2011, at 10:04 p.m.

FORT KENT, Maine — There was a moment in Jaye Foucher’s Irving Woodlands Can Am

Crown 250-Mile race on Saturday when she feared becoming a living example of a race

warning.

Foucher and the other 22 mushers competing in the annual event drove their dog teams

through snow and rain between the start in Fort Kent and the first checkpoint in Portage,

most of them getting soaked to the skin in the process.

“Going into Portage was bad because I was not dressed for it,” Foucher said Sunday. “I

could feel [the rain] seeping into my clothes, and when I got on Portage Lake the wind

hit me. All I could think of was in the Can Am regulations they talk about life threatening

hypothermia setting in, and I thought I was going to become one of those statistics.”

By the time she pulled into the race’s first checkpoint in Portage, Foucher said her teeth

were chattering and hands were shaking.

“But I warmed up taking care of the dogs,” she said.

Despite all that, it was her lingering back injury and not the weather which forced the

New Hampshire musher to drop out of the race after she arrived at the Rocky Brook

checkpoint early Sunday morning.

“When I came into Rocky Brook my toes were tingling,” she said. “And not in a good

way.”

Her dogs, on the other hand, were oblivious to the rain and eager to keep moving.

By late Sunday afternoon 16 of the 23 mushers who left the start line Saturday morning

were still on the trail, most between the checkpoint at Maibec and the final checkpoint in

Allagash.

“It’s a tough race out there, and I’m sure it’s been a bad night that’s not going to get

any better,” Beurmond Banville, Can Am director and media chief, said Sunday

morning. “It’s raining now and it’s going to cool down this afternoon and turn into snow.”

The National Weather Service in Caribou late Sunday afternoon was calling for light to

moderate snow becoming heavier after midnight and into Monday afternoon over the race

area.

“We are looking essentially at a total average of snowfall between 15 and 20-inches,”

Chris Norcross, meteorologist, said Sunday afternoon.

Some areas, he added, could see higher amounts.

“It’s going to be a tough race,” Banville said.

The winner of the CAC 250 is projected to arrive at the finish line in Fort Kent at 9:30

a.m. Monday, but trail conditions could have a significant impact on that projection.

By early Saturday afternoon the winners of the Can Am 30 race were crossing the finish

line with Gabriel DuPlessis of St. Zenon, Quebec, taking first place in 2:43:00.

Second place went to Amy Dionne of St. David in 3:09:39, and Peter Franke of New

Durham, New Hampshire, came in third with a time of 3:16:08.

Rico Portalatin of Westhampton, Mass., won the CAC 60 in a time of 6:04:46.

Second place went to Joseph Tolley of Hardwick, Mass., in 6:33:19 and third to

Marie-Eve Drouin of Metabetchouan-Lac-a-La-Croix, Quebec, in 6:35:28.

“Whether you are first, second, third, fourth or fifth to come to the finish line with a fired

up and energized team still barking and lunging says to me how well I did,” Portalatin

said Sunday morning. “They [the dogs] really pulled it off.”

By early evening 13 mushers were on the trail between Maibec and Allagash.

Among them was Rene Marchildon of South River, Ontario.

“This year I want to get as many dogs to Maibec as I can,” he said Saturday morning

at the race start. “There have been years I’ve gotten to Maibec with six dogs and still

finished the race.”

“People tell you the race really starts in Maibec,” Marchildon said. “So it makes sense to

get there with as many dogs as possible that are happy and healthy.”

Marchildon left Maibec with 11 of the 12 dogs on the race team.

To keep his dogs happy Marchildon is known for singing on the trail – his rendition of

Rocky Raccoon is their favorite.

“I’m a terrible singer,” Marchildon said. “But my dogs never complain about my

singing.”

Also on the trail was four-time CAC 250 winner Martin Massicotte of St. Tite, Quebec.

Massicotte is hoping to garner his fifth win, saying, “I have a one in 25 chance [and] it’s

always fun to be here.”

Local musher Larry Murphy of Fort Kent was still on the trail between Rocky Brook and

Maibec Sunday night.

Ryan Anderson of Ray, MN, widely considered one of the mushers to beat this year,

dropped out of the race after leaving Maibec.

In addition to Foucher, racers Nathan Schroeder, Gavin Baker, Caroline Morin and Mario

Racine all scratched at Rocky Brook, leaving race volunteers scrambling to transport

mushers, dogs and their gear back to Fort Kent over ice covered roads.

“Only thing going over those roads were things with chains on them,” Foucher

said. “You could skate on them.”

The rain had turned the parking lot at the Rocky Brook Check Point into a solid sheet of

ice, Foucher said, but added numerous volunteers took care of her gear to keep her from

further injuring her back.

Race officials reported numerous vehicles stuck on the roads or in ditches due to icy

conditions, but were making steady headway in getting people and dogs back to Fort

Kent.

Race results and musher tracking is on the Can Am web site www.can-am.sjv.net.

http://bangordailynews.com/2011/03/06/outdoors/weather-a-factor-in-this-year%e2%80%99s-can-am-250/ printed on September 16, 2014