FORT KENT, Maine — Ryan Anderson made it two in a row when he crossed the finish line at the Can-Am Crown International 250 at 3:58 a.m. Monday in first place and successfully defended his 2012 win.
A light mix of rain and snow was falling as the Ray, Minn., musher pulled into the Lonesome Pine Ski tow with his nine-dog team close to 40 hours after leaving the Main Street start line Saturday morning.
“It was wet and warm and slow,” Anderson said Monday morning at the finish. “Most of the run was slow and tough [but] the trail was pretty decent.”
Anderson posted a 27:14:09 race time, despite the warm and wet conditions, almost four hours faster than his winning time from last year.
Thirteen teams took off for the start of the Can-Am Crown 250, with the last of seven finishers crossing the line at 11:08 a.m. Monday. The other six mushers dropped out, the last one shortly before 4 p.m. Monday.
The seven finishing teams will share in the race’s $29,000 overall purse which traditionally pays down to 12th place.
Anderson collected $4,500 for taking first place in addition to his shares of the prize money awarded to the first, second and third winner of each of the four race stages and a share of the $4,000 “finishing touch” prize which is divided equally among all racers completing the 250-mile course.
Coming in second with a time of 27:55:20 was Denis Trembley of St-Michel des Saints, Quebec. In third was Laura Daugereau of Port Gamble, Wash., at 28:32:24.
Rounding out the top five were Andre Longchamp of Pont-Rouge, Quebec, 29:26:21; and Mario Racine of Ste-Cecile-De-Milton, Quebec, in 29:33:10.
“This is never an easy race,” Anderson said. “The difficulties always seem to be weather-related.”
In 2011, Anderson was among the 17 mushers who dropped out of the race after a heavy, cold rain soaked mushers for close to 24 hours followed by 16 inches of snow.
“The weather was certainly a factor again this year,” George Theriault, race marshal, said Monday morning. “It was much warmer than normal [and] the teams did not have the cold [temperatures] when they could select to run.”
Running in colder temperatures improves the dogs’ performance.
Temperatures hovered in the mid- to high 30s throughout the weekend.
Mushers also ran the Can-Am Crown 60- and 30-mile races on Saturday.
Married team Manon Moore and Sylvain Robillard of St-Gabriel de Brandon, Quebec, took first and second places, respectively, in the Can-Am 60, posting times of 6:52:00 and 6:53:23. Coming in third was Eric Chagnon of Parent, Quebec, in 7:18:53.
The Canadian domination of the Can-Am Crown 30-mile race ended Saturday when Rico Portalatin of Westhampton, Mass., became the first American to win that race with a time of 3:00:15. Behind him in second place was Amy Dionne of St. David, coming in at 3:07:56. In third was Peter Franke of Brookfield, Mass., in 3:22:46.
At the finish line of the Can-Am 250, race veterinarians were pleased by what they saw with the front-running teams.
“All of his dogs look great and have no problems at all,” Laura McConnell, one of the Can-Am’s race veterinarians, said after examining Anderson’s dogs at the finish line.
“That means he did a good job of managing [dog care] on the trail with rest, snacks and deciding which dogs to drop along the way.”
Anderson finished the race with nine members of the original 12 he had at the start, and McConnell said those nine dogs were well hydrated and alert at the finish.
Fresh from his 14th-place finish at this year’s grueling 1,100-mile Yukon Quest, Trembley was the only Can-Am 250 musher to finish with all 12 dogs.
“His dogs looked awesome at the end,” McConnelll said.
“These are the same dogs I had in the Yukon Quest team,” Trembley said. “They had just raced over 1,100 miles and were well trained coming into this race.”
Trembley had just enough time to get home from the Quest, which wrapped up Feb. 15, before hitting the road to Fort Kent on Friday.
“I like coming to Fort Kent,” he said. “The weather this year made the Can-Am tougher than the Yukon Quest.”
Also completing the 250-mile race on Monday were Martin Massicotte of St.-Tite, Quebec, who came in at 7:41 a.m. with a time of 30 hours, 57 minutes and 31 seconds, and Bob Shanahan of Mechanicsburg, Ohio, who finished at 11:08 a.m. with a time of 34:24:01.
The last musher on the course Monday was Remy Leduc, who pulled out of the race shortly before 4 p.m. somewhere between the race’s third checkpoint at Maibec Logging Camp, almost 100 miles from the finish line, and the Allagash checkpoint, which is about 42 miles from the finish.
Coming into the race, Anderson said he knew he was facing some stiff competition, including multiple Can-Am 250 winner Massicotte.
“I caught up to Martin [Massicotte] the first day and his team looked really nice,” Anderson said. “I figured Denis [Trembley] would be tough because he was just off the Yukon Quest and I knew Laura [Daugereau] had a good team.”
Rather than forming any pre-race strategy, Anderson said he opted to just let the race unfold around him.
“I ran my dogs really conservatively,” he said. “I knew in this race to let happen whatever was going to happen.”
Correction: In a previous version of this story, race finish times were incorrect, as race officials hadn't calculated in times from the final leg of the race.