The Can-Am Crown organization was founded on October 16, 1992 as a non-profit corporation under the laws of the State of Maine. It was established to provide a mid-distance sled dog race to a growing community of mushers from throughout the international region and to enhance the region's image as a travel destination. The Can-Am Crown 250 has rapidly gained popularity as the longest sled dog race in the eastern United States.
After discussing the difficulty of travel, restricted crowd gatherings, the State of Maine Guidelines and, most importantly, the safety and well-being of the mushers, volunteers, spectators, and community, the Can-Am Board of Directors voted to cancel the 30, 100, and 250-mile races for 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Instead, Board members organized a "Can-Am Virtual Fun Run". This was a week-long social media event where mushers were given daily prompts to share pictures and videos and prizes were given out for postings. Video interviews of race organizers, volunteers, and mushers were also posted to give greater insight into the behind-the-scenes of the race.
Weather and trail conditions were favorable throughout the race weekend with temperatures ranging from -10F to 23F. The 250-mile race finish was remarkably close with just 35 seconds separating the first and second place finishers. Denis Tremblay of Quebec finished first and Katherine Langlais of New Brunswick was the second-place finisher. Tremblay was the 250-mile race runner-up four times before securing this dramatic victory. Sally Manikian was victorious in the 100-mile race and Rico Portalatin claimed first in the 30-mile race.
Many mushers stated that trail conditions were some of the best they'd ever seen. The weather was chilly all weekend long, hardening the trails. Temperatures ranged from 16F to -8F. Despite the temperature hovering at minus 2 degrees Fahrenheit on the morning of the start of the races, fans lined both sides of the street. Veteran Can-Am musher, Martin Massicotte, won a record 10th Can-Am Crown 250-mile race when his team pulled across the finish line. Massicotte finished the race with a trail time of 27 hours, 16 minutes, and 7 seconds. Rico Portalatin won the 100-mile race, and Daniel Coutu won the 30-mile race.
Trail conditions were very good, considering race temperatures in the relatively warmer 20s and 30s made the trails slower. While warmer for the mushers and their teams, the temperatures were better for the fans. Main Street in downtown Fort Kent was packed with spectators on race day and the mushers really enjoyed the energetic send-off. Martin Massicotte of Quebec took first place in the Can-Am 250 with an average speed of 9.3 mph. This marks his 9th victory in the 250-mile race. Rico Portalatin of Milo, Maine won the 100-mile race, and Christine Richardson from New Hampshire won the 30-mile race.
The 25th Can-Am was one to remember! Less than optimal weather conditions, including a severe cold snap on race-start day, forced organizers to make last minute changes to the route. Trails were hard-packed and very icy so efforts were made by race organizers to develop a route limiting the number of downhill slopes teams would have to navigate. The 250 had to be rerouted in such a way that Portage was Checkpoint #1 and Checkpoint #2. The lakes were glare ice and rivers were impassable. Race organizers came together to reroute the trails at 4pm Friday afternoon before the race. Talk about a job to get this accomplished! Temperatures over the weekend ranged from a high of 27F to a bone-chilling low of -6F. Martin Massicotte of Quebec won the 250-mile race with a very fast finish. His average speed was 10.42 mph. Bruce Langmaid of Kearney, Ontario was the Can-Am Crown 100 winner. A musher with 35 years of experience, this was Langmaid's second year in a row as the Can-Am Crown 100 victor. Ed Clifford from New Hampshire took first place in the 30-mile race.
There was a lack of snow and warm weather in Fort Kent right up until race weekend. The Board of Directors met the week before the scheduled event and they decided to take a chance. They continued to set up for the race with the prediction of snow in the forecast. Eighteen inches of snow came just in time and the trail crews worked hard to make sure the trails were ready for the mushers. The weather was perfect for the event with a weekend high of 32F and a low of -2F. Martin Massicotte claimed first in the Can-Am 250 with an average speed of 8.49 mph.
This was an exciting year for the Can-Am as race organizers decided to lengthen the route of the mid-distance race from 60 miles to 100 miles. The change was well received and almost 20 mushers participated in this event. The first winner of the Can-Am Crown 100 Mile Race was Bruce Langmaid of Ontario.
Nancy Duplessis (Quebec) was the winner of the 30-mile race.
Trails were in prime condition this year. Temperatures over the weekend were optimal with a maximum temperature of 25F and a low of -3F. Forty-seven teams left the starting gate on a particularly cold Saturday morning. Nevertheless, Main Street, Fort Kent was full of spectators eager to watch the teams take-off. Great trails resulted in quicker finish times. Martin Massicotte of Quebec came in first place and won the Can-Am 250 with an average speed of 9.73 mph. Rico Portalatin of Massachusetts claimed victory in the Can-Am 60. Bailey Vitello, also of Massachusetts, won the Can-Am 30.
Weather cooperated this year. Fair to overcast. Temperatures ranged from -11F to 16F and trails were firm, resulting in some fast finishes. At an average speed of 8.73 mph, Martin Massicotte finished with the fifth fastest speed by a first place finisher in the history of the 250-mile race. This was Massicotte's fourth first place finish, tying with Andre Nadeau for the most first place 250-mile finishes. Rico Portalatin of Massachusetts won the 60-mile race with an average speed of 10.03 mph, almost identical to his average speed in last year's 30-mile race.
Amy deWolski of Massachusetts took a very fast first in the 30-mile race with an average speed of 11.57 mph.
Trail conditions were excellent this year. Heavy snow two days before the race packed well over a very firm base. Ryan Anderson of Minnesota repeated his last year's first place win in the 250 mile race. He finished with the fifth highest average speed in the 21-year history of the race. The 30 mile and 60 mile races were a bit slower than usual, posting fifth lowest and fourth lowest speeds for first place finishers in the histories of those races.
Rico Portalatin of Massachusetts won the 30-mile race with an average speed of 10.11 mph. This marks the first year that a U.S. musher has won that race, breaking a sixteen year string of wins by mushers from Quebec and Ontario. Kennel partners, Manon Moore and Sylvain Robillard, took first and second place respectively in the 60 mile race. They finished very close together, with average speeds slightly greater than 8.6 mph.
Abundant snow arrived in January and February, and the threat of serious rain failed to materialize on the day of the races. Weather was decent and trails were great. Due to the great improvement over the previous year's terrible weather, there were only two scratches in the 250-mile race. Six inches of snow fell during the first day (plus a brief period of light rain), but teams managed to maintain speeds ranging from 6.2mph to 8.3mph throughout the almost 67 miles in the first leg of the 250-mile race. The 60-milers maintained average speeds from 6.2mph to 8.9mph, while the 30-mile first and last finishers averaged 10.2mph and 5.2mph.Anny Malo's first place finish continued the unbroken (16 years!) string of Quebec/Ontario victories in the 30-mile race.
Temperatures were well below zero on Friday night, but when the races started on Saturday morning temperatures started rising into the mid 40's.The 30 and 60-milers started and finished on Saturday, so they mostly avoided the worst of the nightmare weather that was to come. From Saturday afternoon well into Sunday, heavy cold rain soaked mushers and volunteers and turned roads and parking lots into sheets of wet, glare ice. The 250-milers bore the brunt of it. After being doused with rain, the mushers ran into at least 16 inches of heavy snow that started on Sunday and continued through most of Monday. This resulted in the most scratches in Can-Am's history. Only 6 teams finished out of the 22 entries in the 250-mile race.
The crowd of spectators at the race start was huge, and that's an understatement. See the photos.
Trails were very fast except for a stretch of exposed gravel road and a muddied skid trail on the last leg of the race. Overall snow depths were quite good, ranging from practically nothing (on a logging road) to more than two feet. Weather was fair. Temperatures were warmer than normal,with a high of 45°F, but generally ranging from the low 20's to the mid 30's.
In spite of temperatures that averaged more than 30 degrees warmer than 2009, average speeds and the number of dropped dogs were not significantly affected. In the 250-mile race, a total of 71 dogs were dropped, compared to 70 drops in 2009. Matt Carstens repeated his 2009 victory with a slightly higher average speed in 2010.
In the 60-mile race, Dave Turner prevailed over Sylvain Voyer and took first place with a 7 minute lead.
Genevieve Telmosse won the 30-mile race, continuing the unbroken string of Canadian victories in that race.
Some new features were added to further improve immediate access to race data. HughesNet satellite internet was set up at the two remote checkpoints, Rocky Brook and Maibec. Projectors were set up at Can-Am Central and at Maibec (the third checkpoint) to show the up-to-the-minute data and the animations as the races progressed.
During the afternoon and evening before the races, rain fell on a three foot base of snow. That was abruptly followed by a hard freeze which made the trails very fast, with temperatures ranging from -20°F to 10°F during the races. Weather was mostly clear to partly cloudy, but six inches of new snow fell on Monday.
In the 250-mile race, with all start offset times accounted for upon departure from Maibec (Checkpoint #3), Matt Carstens (New Hampshire) held the lead, finishing a half hour before second-placer Jason Barron (Montana). This was Carstens second victory in the Can-Am Crown 250.
Sylvain Voyer (Quebec) won the Can-Am 60 by a margin of less than two minutes over second-placer Dave Turner (Oregon). This was Voyer's third attempt to prevail in the 60-mile race.
After two second-place finishes in the 30-mile race, Diane Marquis (Quebec) broke through the time barrier to win the 2009 Can-Am Crown 30. Marquis added to the unbroken string of Canadian victories in that race. Another Quebecois, Genevieve Telmosse, took second place. Since the first CAC30 in 1997, this race has always been won by Canadians, eleven from Quebec and two from Ontario.
Over a foot of new snow was added to a very deep base during the first two days of the races, but trail conditions were good. Throughout the race the trail crew kept busy grooming the trails to ensure that, as nearly as possible, all teams would have equal conditions. Overall speeds were good, with the last 250-mile team arriving at the finish line 12 hours before the deadline. Temperatures ranged from 0°F to 27°F. Don Hibbs led the pack throughout the first four legs of the race, but his dogs quit on the last leg, dropping him down to a fourth place finish. Quebec racers took the first places in all three races. Martin Massicotte is now a four-time winner of the Can-Am Crown 250. Claude Baril won the 60-mile race and Genevieve Telmosse won the 30-mile race. Canadians now have an unbroken string of firsts in the 30-mile race.
Eight inches of snow fell the night before the races, providing twice as much cushioning as we really wanted. The trail crew was out Friday night and early Saturday grooming the trails, which were mostly soft but not punchy. Race Start: Saturday, March 3, 2007. On the first night of the race, a total eclipse of the moon was visible (dim orange) through breaks in the partly cloudy sky. Weekend temperatures held mostly in the 20's, but Monday the temps fell and wind started to pick up. Late Monday and early Tuesday were below zero with visibility limited occasionally by strong gusts that whipped up the snow. Weather alternated between fair and flurries. The 250-mile race had perhaps the most exciting finish in Can-Am Crown's history. Three-time winner Don Hibbs was in the lead throughout most of the race, but 9 miles from the finish he was passed by Rick Larson. Then Rita Wehseler passed Hibbs just 1/2 mile from the finish. She came speeding across the finish line shortly after Larson and was overjoyed to be the first woman to win second place in the grueling 250-mile race.
Beginning on Christmas day, a huge snowstorm blanketed the St. John Valley with up to 39 inches of heavy snow in a 48 hour period. This set the stage for another great Can-Am Crown race season. On Saturday, March 4, 2006, Fort Kent's Main Street was again thronging with spectators cheering the starts of 81 teams. Weather was fair throughout the races --- mostly sunny with temperatures ranging from 8°F to 29°F. Snow depth was more than adequate, and trails were firm and fast. Several scratches in the 250-mile race were due to sickness and lack of training opportunities in other regions where snow was scarce. There were no scratches in the 30-mile and 60-mile races.
The races started very smoothly on Saturday, March 5, 2005, with a full roster of 30 teams in each race. Weather was fabulous at the start --- calm and sunny with a temperature of -6°F. Temperatures remained between -6°F and 25°F throughout the race. About 1:00am on Sunday, we felt the effects of an earthquake originating in Canada just south of the St.Lawrence River. Light to heavy snow moved in on Sunday, then Monday was again clear and cold, but on Tuesday we were hit by a major snowstorm that dropped over two feet of powder on the trails. This brought the snow level in Fort Kent up to 56 inches on the ground. The trail crew was hard pressed to keep up with the grooming, and mushers who did not finish before the snowfall found the going very difficult.
On Saturday, February 21, 2004, the races opened with overcast skies and temperatures in the low teens. For the most part, trails had a light coating of fresh snow over a firm base, but 8-12" of snow fell on the fourth leg of the 250-mile race, causing a marked slowdown of teams on that leg. Significant snowfall was confined to that area, so teams picked up considerable speed on the last leg. The moose liked the trail, too, punching hazard holes into some stretches. Temperatures stayed in a fairly narrow range from 10°F to 25°F. Winds averaged 9mph to 15mph.
Overcast, light snow, partly cloudy, and clear periods alternated throughout the race.
During the 2003 race temperatures ranged from -11°F to 30°F. A 12" snowstorm that was forecast for Sunday night fizzled into a mere 2" of powder, but high winds and below zero temps created uncomfortable conditions on Monday. Winds of 35mph with gusts up to 50mph produced frequent whiteouts, obscuring some of the signs on the well-marked trails. No one lost the trail, but one musher temporarily lost his team on the first leg of the race. Lots of snow and consistently cold temps in the months before the race made it impossible for the trail crew to firm up the trail as much as they hoped, although it was packed and groomed several times. The loose footing and severe drifting slowed the teams somewhat, especially on the last leg of the race. Despite the harsh conditions, mushers had enthusiastic thumbs up reviews for the trails.
Race day, Saturday, March 2, 2002, opened with sunny skies and temperatures in the single numbers, rising to the mid 20's later in the day. Considered scant in this part of the country, the two feet of snow on the ground was enough to form excellent trails on most of the course. Rising temperatures and briefly heavy rains on Sunday night dampened the enthusiasm of some of the 250-milers, but by Monday morning temperatures had dropped back to the teens and trails were hard and fast. A total of 84 teams entered the three races. Trails, signs, maps and organization received rave reviews in spite of the weather vagaries. The 8:00a.m. start for the 60-milers brought them into the finish between 1:50p.m. and 7:16p.m., two hours earlier than the usual 10:00a.m. start, which was greatly appreciated by sweeps, crossing guards, and spectators. The 30-milers started at 9:00, followed by the 250's at 10:00a.m.
On March 3 a record number of teams (26) started the long trek in the 9th annual Can-Am 250 Sled Dog Race. Firm trails, record cold temperatures (-26°F), and a lot of determination helped Keith Aili set a new course record.
Rita Lensing became the first woman ever to cross Can-Am's 250-mile finish line, capturing 7th place in the race. She was tortured by a bad back throughout much of the race and was whisked off to the hospital by ambulance when she reached the finish. Lensing won a sportsmanship award for helping Karen Land catch up with her lost team, which had surprised the staff at checkpoint #2 by arriving without a driver.
For the first time, all three Can-Am races started and finished in Fort Kent. The 60 and 30-mile races were very successful, with 20 and 28 starters, respectively.
In the CAC60, Mark Akester's young dogs quit about 15 miles from the finish. Mark, George Pooler (crossing guard), and Dana Pinette (sweep), took turns walking the dogs out to an access road in a five-hour marathon that lasted late into the night.
In a freakish accident, Jane Sutherland, in the CAC30, slipped near the finish line, fell against her sled and suffered a broken collarbone. Despite the mishaps, enthusiasm for the race was very high.
Although it rained in Fort Kent the night before the race, a 35" base of white gold reassured mushers. On race day, Saturday, March 4, 54 teams rejoiced under a brightly overcast sky. A few miles to the west of Fort Kent, in St. Francis, where the 30-mile race was to start, a surprising 6"-8" of new, wet snow had compromised the well-packed and groomed trail. The 30-mile racers were then met with the challenge of breaking trail for the first 15 miles or so. The snow-bowed tree limbs and bushes were a beautiful sight that some mushers enjoyed, while others did not. It was a photographer's delight.
Starting from Fort Kent, the 250 and 60-milers had easier conditions, but relatively mild temperatures did not firm up the trails well. Dogs and sleds were well supported, but drivers occasionally punched through. Ice was thick and firm on lakes and rivers, so crossings were not a problem.
During the races temperatures held in a narrow, above-normal range between 20° and 33°F. As the last two finishers came in on a sunny Tuesday morning, the overnight temperature of 17° rapidly gave way to a balmy, spring-like 45°F. (By the next weekend temperatures had dropped to near 0°.)
On March 6, 1999, the three Can-Am races were blessed with a total turnout of 55 teams (more than 400 sled dogs) packing the starting lines in Fort Kent and St. Francis. The races got off to a very fast start, but because of slippery ice on St. Froid Lake the sixteen contestants in the 250-mile race were rerouted onto snowmobile trails on the leg to Portage.
The 1998 races started on February 28. To enhance the excitement, Can-Am Crown added 5 stage prizes of $1,000 each for the 250-mile race. The races got off to a great start, but, as time wore on, El Nino whittled away at the trails. By Sunday, stream crossings became dangerous, and a section of trail was diverted to plowed woods roads on the third leg of the race. As temperatures climbed, the ice and snow on the plowed roads became scarce. Several teams scratched, but 7 teams finished the race and were well rewarded for their valiant efforts. The following weekend saw a return to ideal conditions.
Heavy late-winter snows in northern Maine created excellent conditions for the 1997 races. They started on March 1, two weeks later then the traditional President's Day weekend date. The events included the 250-mile race, the 60-mile race, and also a new 30-mile race to attract more local teams. The later date helped to avoid conflicts with other races on the same date. As a result of the new schedule and increased purses (nearly $20,000 total), 52 teams entered the three races.
Pre-race conditions were far from ideal. A heavy, wet snowstorm in January raised havoc with the trails. Crews of volunteers had to hack their way into trails which were often completely obscured by bowed trees, brush, and branches. At times it seemed almost hopeless, but the job was done in time for the race to start with a bang on Saturday, February 17. Unfortunately, because of scheduling conflicts with midwestern races, only five teams and one ski-jorer attempted the Can-Am 250. Sixteen inches of light powder fell during the first day, making the start picturesque but the going tough for all teams involved. Following the storm the temperature dropped to -20°F during the night and 0°F during the day --perfect weather for sled dogs, but not so comfortable for humans. Trails were excellent and all teams that started finished. Immediately following the race the winter's second meltdown occurred!
In 1995 weather conditions were nearly perfect. The temperature on the morning of the start was about 18°F. Though the temperature did climb into the low 40's by afternoon, the weather cooled off quickly, and the overnight temperature stayed in the low teens. Running conditions were good overall.
On Saturday, February 19, 1994, the 250-mile race attracted 16 contestants plus one ski-jorer (Barry Dana), but the weather was extremely abnormal for February. The temperature was 20°F on Saturday morning, but by afternoon it had risen to a freakish 60°F, making the trails soft and slow. Overnight temperatures remained above freezing and began to rise rapidly the next morning. Both races were concluded early due to deteriorating trail conditions and dangerously thin ice on the St. John River.
Only three of the teams had reached Maibec, 160 miles into the race. The $10,000 purse was divided among the12 mushers with the best times to checkpoint #3 (Maibec) and checkpoint #2 (Musquacook).
On Sunday, 11 dog teams competed in a newly introduced 60-mile race. The first half of the race was run for 30 miles up the St. John River as far as Allagash, then the race was halted because of thinning ice.
Our first 250 mile race began on Tuesday, February 16, 1993. Weather conditions became very severe during the race. A blizzard swept in and dropped 15 inches of snow during the first 24 hours. This was followed by strong northwest winds that dropped the temperature to 32°F below zero. Nine teams from Maine, Ontario, Quebec, and New Brunswick competed for the $10,000 purse, which was raised entirely through local contributions, many in small donations from individuals.