FORT KENT – Seven mushers in the 14th annual Irving Woodlands 250-mile Can-Am Crown International Sled Dog Race were within 92 minutes of each other on the trail late Sunday afternoon as they headed for the fourth checkpoint at Allagash.
They were leading a pack of 12 teams on a 55-mile leg through a remote section of forest in northwest Maine. The leader was expected to reach Allagash by 8 p.m.
Within 100 miles of the finish line in the $20,000 race, Matt Carstens of Whitefield, N.H., was leading second-place Bruce Langmaid of Blackstock, Ontario, a two-time winner of the Iditarod of the east, by 28 minutes. Stephane Duplissee of St. Zenon, Quebec, was running third, four minutes behind Langmaid. Fourth-place Rene Marchildon left the third checkpoint 11 minutes ahead of Martin Massicotte of St. Tite, Quebec, who was running fifth.
The winner was expected to arrive at the finish line at Lonesome Pine Lodge at Fort Kent on Monday morning, possibly as early as 7 a.m.
By 6 p.m. Sunday, eight of the 26 teams that started the grueling race had scratched. A sick dog team and injuries to mushers and dogs alike were taking their toll.
Four of the teams scratched at Rocky Brook, about halfway through the race. The other four stopped at Maibec, about 100 miles from the finish line.
At 6 p.m., two teams had yet to leave Maibec’s for Allagash, and four others had yet to reach Maibec’s.
The first-place finisher in the 250-mile race takes home $4,500. The $20,000 purse is divided among the top 12 finishers.
Carstens took the lead in the race from Rene Marchildon during the third leg, a 33-mile run between the Rocky Brook Lumber Camp in T13 R11 and Maibec’s Lumber Camp in T13 R14 near the Maine-Quebec border.
Marchildon, the singing musher from South River, Ontario, set the race’s initial pace, running the 72 miles from Fort Kent to Portage Lake in seven hours 38 minutes. He was less than eight minutes ahead of Carstens. Martin Massicotte, the 2005 Can-Am champion, ran third into the first checkpoint about 20 minutes behind Carstens.
The Fort Kent to Portage Lake run is the longest of the 250-mile classic. The run from Portage Lake to the Rocky Brook checkpoint is 48 miles, to the Maibec Lumber Camp is 33 miles, to Allagash is 55 miles, and to the finish line at Fort Kent is another 44 miles.
Carstens left Portage Lake one hour after arriving, and Marchildon followed him out one minute later, still in the lead.
“It’s been a good day,” Carstens said after arriving first at Portage. “Good trails, and it’s been fast.”
“The trail is great, fantastic,” Marchildon said at the Rocky Brook Lumber Camp just after 1 a.m. Sunday. “The dogs are having a good time, and so am I.”
“The dogs are in great shape, and we are moving right along,” Langmaid said at the Rocky Brook checkpoint. “Things are going well.”
Marchildon said he was trying to find a way to stay ahead of Carstens, who was eating at a table next to him.
The mushers were running hard through the night Saturday after running slower during the warmer hours Saturday afternoon. Temperatures rose to the mid-30s both Saturday and Sunday. During the night the temperature dropped to the low 20s.
Mushers in the 250-mile classic have until 2 p.m. Tuesday to finish the race.
The 30- and 60-mile races were run on Saturday.
Jim Wellert of Wadsworth, Ohio, took home the $2,000 top prize for first place in the Willard Jalbert Jr. Can-Am 60-mile Race on Saturday. He made the run in five hours 52 minutes 17 seconds. He was nine minutes faster than J.R. Anderson of Ray, Minn., who was five minutes 48 seconds ahead of 14-year-old Jacob Golton of L’Amable, Ontario
Six women finished in the top 10 in the 30-mile race Saturday. Thirteen women competed in the race.
Francois Maurice of Ste. Sophie, Quebec, won the Pepsi-Budweiser Can-Am 30-mile Race in two hours 36 minutes 24 seconds. He outdistanced another Quebecois, Diane Marquis, by seven minutes 16 seconds. Third was Alan Ricalton, just two minutes behind Marquis.
The top 12 mushers in each race win part of the purse for that race.
Sled dog racing
FORT KENT – Weekend results from Can-Am Crown International Sled Dog Races.
Willard Jalbert Jr. Can-Am Crown 60
1. Jim Wellert, Wadsworth, Ohio, five hours 52 minutes 17 seconds.
2. J.R. Anderson, Ray, Minn., 6:01:17.
3. Jacob Golton, L’Amable, Ontario, 6:07:05.
4. Amelie Aubut, Pont Rouge, Quebec, 6:25:10.
5. Jeffrey Baril, St. Zenon, Quebec, 6:31:48.
6. Shawn Akins, Williamstown, Ontario, 6:32:20.
7. Becky Johnson-Himes, Luther, Mich., 6:36:21.
8. Jennifer Freking, Finland, Minn., 6:37:19.
9. Francois Lautour, Embrun, Ontario, 6:46:48.
10. Kricket Ingerson, Jefferson, N.H., 6:48:05.
11. Ken Golton, L’Amable, Ontario, 6:49:15.
12. Monica Magnusson, Manchester, Mich., 6:50:12.
13. Eric Chagnon, Parent, Quebec, 6:50:22.
14. Steven Collins, Guildhall, Vt., 6:50:29.
15. Mike Johnson, Leroy, Mich., 6:57:06.
16. Karine Grenier, Val des Lacs, Quebec, 6:57:19.
17. Kim Darst, Blairstown, N.J., 6:58:39.
18. Les Shvarts, Winchendon, Mass., 7:27:17.
19. Larry Murphy, Fort Kent, Maine, 7:27:26.
20. Marc Alain, St. Etienne des Gres, Quebec, 7:29:55.
21. Dennis Cyr, Fort Kent, Maine, 7:35:34.
22. Jaye Foucher, Asjhland, N.H., 7:45:27.
23. Mike Paradis, Fort Kent, Maine, 7:52:16.
24. Andy Benkendorf, Mine Hill, N.J., 7:58:38.
25. Sylvain Charette, St. Michel des Saints, Quebec, 8:16:12.
26. Caroline Blair-Smith, Albany Township, Maine, 8:23:05.
Daniel Landreville, Trois Rivieres, Quebec, did not finish.
Pepsi/Budweiser 30-mile Race
1. Francoise Maurice, Ste. Sophie, Quebec, two hours 36 minutes 24 seconds.
2. Diane Marquis, St. Hugues, Quebec, 2:43:40.
3. Alan Ricalton, Natural Bridge, N.Y., 2:45:41.
4. Christine Richardson, Canaan, N.H., 2:53:01.
5. Lincoln Seeley, Herouxville, Quebec, 2:55:17.
6. Andrew Zollner, Boileau, Quebec, 2:57:32.
7. Lise Marquis, L’Isle Verte, Quebec, 2:58:30.
8. Genevieve Telmosse, Val des Lacs, Quebec, 3:05:07.
9. Jocelyn Bradbury, Oxford, Maine, 3:06:47.
10. Claudette Blouin, St. Hugues, Quebec, 3:11:15.
11. John Miller, Branchville, N.J., 3:19:33.
12. Gaetan Martin, St. Basile, New Brunswick, 3:23:10.
13. Daniel Landreville, Trois Rivieres, Quebec, 3:26:11.
14. Amy Delano, Troy, Maine, 3:27:37.
15. Suzette Marquis, St. Eugene, Quebec, 3:30:47.
16. Adam Cummings, Sharon, Vt., 3:32:40.
17. Kyle Stoops, Winterport, Maine, 3:33:39.
18. Tenley Meara, Eagle Lake, Maine, 3:34:13.
19. Heather Delano, Troy, Maine, 3:35:19.
20. Kip Bartlett, West Lebanon, Maine, 3:40:01.
21. Wesley Baum, Dryden, N.Y., 3:50:17.
22. David Punch, Orange, Conn., 3:52:12.
23. Jason Bennett, Fort Kent, Maine, 4:10:51.
24. Johanne Cloutier, Edmundston, New Brunswick, 4:16:40.
25. Christina Dawn Eagle, Jackson, Maine, 4:19:12.
26. Traci Halvorson, Easton, Maine, 4:22:52.
27. Jonathan Hayes, Belfast, Maine, 4:29:49.
28. Anthony Colello, Rangeley, Maine, 4:45:17.
29. Nick Van Drimmelen, Jericho Center, Vt., 5:20:57.