Weather forces mushers to hunker down nine miles from the finish

Posted March 07, 2011, at 3:17 p.m.

FORT KENT, Maine — Weather continues to control the outcome of the 250-mile Irving Woodlands Can Am Crown International Sled Dog Race as four teams opted to rest on the trail nine miles from the finish line Monday afternoon.

According to race officials, Martin Massicotte, Andre Longchamps, Rene Marchildon and Denis Trembley were using their emergency stores of dog food to feed the sled dogs and were planning to stay put for three hours before making the final push to the finish line at Lonesome Pines Ski Lodge.

“It’s a smart thing to do at this point,” George Theriault, race marshal, said. “They definitely had a tough run through the night.”

This year’s Can Am has thrown everything from driving rain to near blizzard conditions at the mushers on the trail that weaves from Fort Kent to Portage through the northern Maine woods to Allagash and back to Fort Kent.

Along the way 17 teams have scratched, leaving just six of the original 23 who started the race Saturday morning.

Four-time Iditarod finisher Jamie Nelson was reportedly on the move on the trail between the final two safety stations between 17 and nine miles out of town. The sixth team of dogs being run by Krister Raasoch was still resting at the Allagash checkpoint midafternoon.

“You have the top competitors still out there,” Theriault said. “Right now the most important thing is the search and rescue people have accounted for everybody [and] everyone is healthy and all are doing good.”

More than 14 inches of wind-driven snow had covered the trail Monday, creating massive drifts and bogging the teams down.

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