FORT KENT, Maine — With four months to go before the start of the 2023 Can-Am Crown International Sled Dog Race, the number of mushers registered for the event has already surpassed the total that competed last year.
So far, 56 mushers and their dog teams have signed up for the March 2023 event. Last spring 55 mushers showed up for the race.
Race organizers cap the number of participants at 90.
Can-Am has been the premier sled dog racing event in New England for 30 years, and draws thousands of spectators to the small northern Maine town of Fort Kent.
The event includes three timed races, the Willard Jalbert Jr. Can-Am 100-mile race, the Pepsi/Native Dog Food Can-Am 30-mile and Irving Woodlands Can-Am Crown 250.
Mushers registered for 2023 range from 13 years old to 68, with occupations as diverse as their ages. Mushers include a flight nurse, helicopter pilot, pharmaceutical development scientist, finance manager, dog handler, farm worker and master electrician.
They have in common a love for racing sled dogs.
All three of last year’s winners have registered to defend their titles.
2022 Can-Am 250 winner Denis Tremblay of Quebec will have to fend off nine other competitors so far, including his old friend, 10-time Can-Am 250 champion Martin Massicotte, who will return to the race after a two-year hiatus during which he competed in the Iditarod.
The Can-Am 250-mile race is known as the “Iditarod of the East” for the challenging course it provides mushers and their teams through the rugged northern Maine woods.
Sally Manikian will look to three-peat as Can-Am 100 winner. The New Hampshire musher registered a time of 7:27:09 in 2022 and also took first place in 2020. Can-Am was not held in 2021 amid concerns about spreading COVID-19.
Diane Marquis, 68, of St.-Medard, Quebec crossed the 2022 Can-Am 30-mile finish line with a winning time of 2:12:26. Among Marquis’ competition in 2023 will be popular Can-Am veteran Rico Portalatin of Milo.
Plans have been in the works all year for the 2023 Can-Am, which will be held March 4-7 in Fort Kent, Can-Am President Dennis Cyr said.