FORT KENT, Maine — A returning Quebec woman and her team of sled dogs won the Pepsi/Native Dog Food Can-Am Crown 30 race on Saturday afternoon for the second year in a row.
Diane Marquis, 68, of St. Medard, Quebec, crossed the finish line at Lonesome Pine Trails in Fort Kent before 12 p.m. with a winning time of 02:04:21, beating her 2:12:26 time from last year’s race.
The Can-Am Crown International Sled Dog Races are held in northern Aroostook County and include three races of different lengths. The longest is the Irving Woodlands Can-Am Crown 250, which will wrap up at about 12 a.m. on Sunday.
“The 30 mile race we have many, many rookies which is nice to see,” said Dennis Cyr, Can-Am President. “The sport for quite a few years was the same people participating, but this year in the 30 mile race I think we’ve had seven or eight new rookies that have never raced our race before.”
The Can-Am 30 mile race got off to a rigorous start Saturday with 21 mushers competing.
Marquis has been a musher for 30 years.
Stephane Roy, 32, of Sainte-Anne-De-Madawaska, New Brunswick, took second place in the 30 mile race this year with a time of 02:12:13. It was her second time competing in the event. Roy has 65 dogs at her kennel, SDI Racing Kennel, which she runs with her wife Denise.
Alexander Therriault, 30, of Oxford took third place in the 30 mile with a time of 02:35:37. Therriault is the Owner and Guide at The Ultimate Dog Sledding Experience where he offers guided sled dog tours in the winter.
Fort Kent native Piper Ashley, 13, raced the Can-Am 30-mile for the first time on her own this year after getting permission from her dad. Ashley finished in 11th place. Wyatt Marquis, 15 and also from Fort Kent, was right behind Diane Marquis’s team at the finish line and took 5th place with a time of 02:48:26.
Only one musher Doug Stoakley, 52, of Havelock, New Brunswick, scratched in the Can-Am 30 mile and the results of the race were made official by 4:30 p.m.
As of Saturday evening, mushers and their sled dog teams are still on the course in the In Memory of Willard Jalbert Jr. Can-Am 100-mile and the Irving Woodlands Can-Am 250-mile.
All three races began on Fort Kent’s Main Street on a single digit Saturday morning as spectators cheered on the mushers as they checked their dogs harnesses before taking off. Some dogs smiled as they rushed by the crowd and out to the trail.