FORT KENT, Maine – A Quebec woman and her team of sled dogs was first out of 22 other mushers to win the Pepsi/Native Dog Food Can-Am 30-mile race Saturday afternoon.
Diane Marquis, 67, of St.-Medard, Quebec, crossed the finish line at Lonesome Pine Trails in Fort Kent shortly before 12:30 p.m. with a winning time of 2:12:26.
The Can-Am Crown International Sled Dog Races were held in northern Aroostook County Saturday and Sunday after a one-year hiatus caused by fears last year of spreading COVID-19. The three timed races — In Memory of Willard Jalbert Jr. Can-Am 100, the 30-mile race and Irving Woodlands Can-Am Crown 250 — started from Main Street in Fort Kent Saturday.
“It was an excellent day today for a race,” Marquis, whose first language is French, said through a translator. “I got good dogs.”
Marquis said she was eager to see if she beat her own time from 2008 when she took second place in the same race.
It turns out she did, by a little more than 12 minutes.
Marquis enjoys hunting on her land, fishing out of her three artificial lakes and training her sled dogs for competitions, according to her Can-Am musher profile.
Alexander Therriault of Oxford took second place in the 30-mile race this year with a time of 2:29.27 and Stephane Roy of Saint-Anne-de-Madawaska, New Brunswick, finished in third place at 2:42.54.
Mother and daughter Tracy and Chantelle Babin of Caribou enjoyed success in the race as well, despite the fact that Tracy Babin just recently returned to mushing after a 15-year break from it. And Can-Am was only 15-year-old Chantelle’s second competitive mushing event. Her first was the Wilderness Sled Dog Race in Greenville last month.
Tracy Babin, 42, took ninth place in the Can-Am 30 with a time of 3:04:58, and Chantelle finished in the 13th spot at 3:12:08.
“The trails had a few challenging spots and a few easy spots so it was both challenging and rewarding,” Tracy Babin said.
“The dogs all did really good and it wasn’t as hard as I anticipated it would be,” Chantelle Babin said. “It was just a fun race all the way around.”
As of Saturday evening, mushers and their teams were still on the course in the In Memory of Willard Jalbert Jr. Can-Am 100 and Irving Woodlands Can-Am Crown 250.
All three races kicked off on Fort Kent’s Main Street Saturday morning as thousands of fans cheered on mushers and their dogs, who yipped, howled and jumped with joy as they awaited their turns to run the trails of northern Maine.