FORT KENT, Maine — After four times placing second in the Irving Woodlands Can-Am Crown 250, Quebec musher Denis Tremblay raced to the top of the pack on Monday morning.
“I worked very much to win this race,” Tremblay said after crossing the finish line at Lonesome Pine Trails at 7:58 a.m. “After 13 times I tried; I’m very happy.”
Tremblay eked out the win not knowing that Katherine Langlais of New Brunswick was on his tail and crossed the line 35 seconds later.
Can-Am board member Alan Dow said this is the closest finish in the history of the race.
“They were just 35 seconds apart after 250 miles— that’s unheard of,” Dow said.
Langlais trailed Tremblay by 12 minutes after leaving the Allagash checkpoint and embarking on the final leg of the race.
Her dogs’ history of racing Can-Am helped her to close the gap.
“They know the trail so as soon as we left Allagash, they just opened up and gave it their all. So did I really,” Langlais said.
This was Langlais’ third time competing in the 250-mile race. She has moved up in place with each run, from ninth, to third and now a second place finish.
“Let’s hope it’s a trend,” she said.
No woman has ever won the Can-Am 250, and Langlais is only the second woman to garner a second place finish.
Tremblay said Langlais was great competition but he was disappointed he could not try to beat 10-time Can-Am 250 winner Martin Massicotte.
“I prefer to win the years Martin is here, but I am so happy to win the Can-Am,” Tremblay said.
Martin Massicotte was not at the race this year because he was on his way to Alaska to compete in the 1,000-mile Iditarod. Tremblay and Massicotte are good friends who have often run neck and neck in the Can-Am.
Upon learning Sunday evening that Tremblay was leading the race, Massicotte said, “If Denis wins after all these years, it’s a well-deserved victory. Winning the Can Am represents all the quality of the work accomplished before and during the race.”
Massicotte also praised his friend Langlais.
“She is in constant improvement,” he said.
Both Tremblay and Langlais said they planned to stick around at Lonesome Pine Lodge on Monday to follow the progress of some of the other 250 mushers still out on the trail. Among those still racing were Langlais’ husband, Remy Leduc, who is running the couple’s yearling team this year.
Tremblay said he is awaiting the finish of his friends Andre Longchamps, who placed second in the 250 last year; Andre’s son Tristan Longchamps and 14-year-old Florence Shaw.
Tremblay said he will return to the Can-Am next year to defend his title, and hopes to compete against his good friend Massicotte.
“Can-Am is the best race I have ever raced,” Tremblay said. “It’s not the big race — it’s the big family.”
Other winners of the 2020 Can-Am Crown International Sled Dog Races were
Sally Manikian of Shelburne, New Hampshire, who raced to first place in the In Memory of Willard Jalbert Jr. Can-Am Crown 100 early Sunday, finishing with a time of 21:14:22;
and Rico Portalatin of Milo, who took first place in the Pepsi Bottling & Allen’s Coffee Flavored Brandy Can-Am Crown 30 this year with a time of 2:24:11.
Mushers in those races were honored at an awards banquet at Lonesome Pine Trails on Sunday morning.