FORT KENT — Eighty-three mushers have signed up for the 19th running of the Can-Am Crown Sled Dog Race which is still four months away in this northern Maine town.
Twenty-six of the teams are from Maine, a far cry from the three teams entered in the first running in 1993. The only race without its quota of 30 teams is the 250-mile long classic. There are seven slots left in that race. The 30-mile race already has a waiting list of hopefuls.
Also included in the mushers is one team from New Zealand. New England has 47 teams in the competition and the Canadian Provinces have 19 teams. The Quebec contingent has the largest number of competitors after Maine with 10.
The race will be held on the weekend of March 4 with the Main Street start scheduled for Saturday, March 5. Registrations were accepted starting Aug. 1 for all three races. The bib number drawing took place at a meeting of the Can-Am Crown Board of Directors on Aug. 22.
Irving Woodlands, the Willard Jalbert Jr. Family and Pepsi Cola have all agreed, again, to sponsor the 250, 60 and 30-mile races. The total purse for the races is $40,000.
The Can-Am Crown Sled Dog Race at Fort Kent is the most demanding and longest sled dog race in the United States east of the Mississippi River in the lower 48 states. It is a qualifier for the famed 1,100-mile Iditarod Sled Dog Race in Alaska and the 1,000-mile Yukon Quest. It is considered to be one of the hardest tests of man and dog in the sled dog race circuit. Simply finishing the 250-mile trail is considered a great accomplishment.
“The sponsors continue to support the race, and the board of directors has been hard at work since the end of the 2010 race,” said Rita Cannan, who has once again taken the helm as president of the board of directors for the race.
“The 19th annual running will showcase northern Maine and Fort Kent as a winter destination where people can have fun no matter what the weather is,” said. Cannan
Mushers will race through the challenging route from Fort Kent to Portage Lake, then westward to isolated checkpoints in the silent, snowbound northern Maine forests, then northward to Allagash and back to Fort Kent in a scenic loop that traverses varied terrain including unforgiving forests, brooks, lakes, open fields, populated areas and demanding hills and mountains.
Founded on October 16, 1992 to establish a mid-distance sled dog race to serve a community of mushers throughout the snow belt and to enhance the areas image as a winter destination point, the annual 250-mile classic on the first weekend of March has become a glowing jewel in the Aroostook County Crown image. Shorter 60-mile and 30-mile races were established in 1994 and 1997 to create starter races for fledgling mushers working their ways up to the 250-mile classic. Thirty teams are allowed annually to compete in each of the races.
For more information contact Rita Cannan at 444-5439, or Beurmond J. Banville, publicity director, at 543-7515 or 557-0755.