St. John Valley Times - Wednesday, February 25, 2004
by Mary Jo Shafer
By Mary Jo Shafer
ST. JOHN VALLEY Dogs harmonizing with high pitched singing and boisterous barking filled the air in Fort Kent Saturday morning at the start of the 12th annual Can-Am Crown sled dog races.
Thousands of spectators crowded downtown Fort Kent to watch the start of the races on Main Street.
With the temperature hovering in the low 20s, the weather was pleasant for those watching, but a bit warm for the dogs, who thrive on even colder temps. Snow began to fall that afternoon, accumulating up to eight inches in the Allagash, forcing the leading teams to break trail through the fresh powder.
Fifty-nine mushers participated in the races this year, including local mushers and those from throughout the United States and Canada.
The teams of dogs and their mushers took off from Main Street cheered by an enthusiastic crowd.
They set off on varying lengths; the 30, 60 and 250 mile race, the longest sled dog race in the Eastern United States.
Bruce Langmaid, 46, of Blackstock, Ontario, and his team of sled dogs trotted into the finish line at Lonesome Pines Trails in Fort Kent Monday morning at 8:44 a.m., beating out 15 other mushers to win the Key Bank Can-Am Crown 250 race. Langmaid won the race in a time of about 32 hours.
He arrived ahead of schedule, surprising the timers and judges when he quietly crossed the finish line almost an hour ahead of his estimated arrival time.
Langmaid, who won the 250 mile race last year, had a huge smile on his face, as he petted and congratulated his dogs at the finish.
He tended to his team and then wandered inside for a hot cup of coffee.
Langmaid, who lives in a small town outside of Toronto, owns and operates a kennel and a fire wood business and has been involved with dog sledding for 20 years.
This was his fourth time competing in the Can-Am 250; he placed third in 2001 and 2002.
Canadian mushers swept the first three spots in the Can-Am 250. . Martin Massicotte, 36, of SteTite, Quebec, came in second at 9:59 a.m.
The two mushers were close throughout the long race and left the Allagash checkpoint only 20 minutes apart.
Massicote is also no stranger to the Can-Am and he has also competed in the Yukon Quest.
Aaron Peck, 25, of Grafton, Ontario, was the third team to finish the race at 3:17 p.m., followed by the first Mainer to finish, Ashley Simpson, of Shirley at 3:17 p.m. Simpson's fourth place finish was a repeat performance; she also finished in that spot in last year's 250, making history as both the youngest competitor and the highest placing woman in the 250.
Langmaid led the pack throughout the race on the way to his second victory in the Can-Am 250. He was first into Portage, Big Machias, Maibec, and Allagash checkpoints.
He took the time to rest his dogs, staying in Maibec and Allagash over the mandatory layover time required, allowing his team to complete the course in good shape. His dogs were happy at the finish, wagging their tails and smiling.