Press Release: 10/12/99


Preparations for the millennium Can-Am Crown sled dog races are well under way. Rita Cannan continues as chair of the Can-Am Crown Board of Directors, Scott Guimond as treasurer, and Dennis Cyr as vice-chair and trail boss. Suzie Paradis will continue as a director, but has turned over the secretarial duties to Wendy Voisine.

Rounding out the board of directors are Pam Bard, Marc Chasse, Charles Closser, Dawn Dumond, Gale Flagg, Stan Flagg, Shawn Graham, Betty Harris, Dave Hartt, John Kaleta, Steve Kennedy, Frances Labrie, Rod Madore, Paul Marquis, Pete Morin, Barry Ouellette, John Pelletier, Ruth Pelletier, Charles Rudelitch, Reynold Theriault, Jr., and Dan Vaillancourt.

Northland Telephone of Maine is again sponsoring the 250-mile race, to be known as the Northland Telephone Can-Am 250 (NTC 250). Key Bank of Fort Kent continues to sponsor the 60-mile race, known as the Key Bank Can-Am 60 (KBC 60). Budweiser and Pepsi Bottling of Aroostook will provide the prize money for the 30-mile race (PBC 30).

The eighth running of the CAC races will begin on Saturday, March 4, 2000. The courses will be similar to previous years, with the 250-mile race and 60-mile race starting from Main Street in Fort Kent, and the 30-milers starting in St. Francis. The 250-milers, with 8-12 dogs per team, will start at 9:00 a.m. running south to Portage, west to Allagash, and back to Fort Kent. The finish will be at Lonesome Pine Trails in Fort Kent on Monday & Tuesday, March 6-7.

 After the 250-milers are on their way, the 60-mile racers, with 6-8 dogs per team, will also depart (about 10 a.m.) from Main Street. They will race to St. Francis along the old railroad bed, then return to Fort Kent by a more southerly route through the woods. This one-day race will finish in the afternoon and evening at Lonesome Pine Trails.

On the same day, the 30-mile racers, with 5 or 6 dogs in each team, will start from St. Francis, Maine at 10 a.m., and race through woods and fields to finish 3 to 6 hours later at Lonesome Pine Trails in Fort Kent.

The 1999 races were blessed with a 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 250-mile teams were rerouted onto snowmobile trails on the leg to Portage . While on the trail, Don Hibbs’s team averaged almost 10mph to win the NTC250 race in record time. Nelson O’Farrell won the KBC60 with an average speed of 14.5mph, and Danny O’Farrell averaged 9mph over a hilly 35 miles to take first prize in the PHD30.

In the upcoming races (year 2000), a $17,000 purse is available for the top 12 finishers in the NTC250, $5,000 for the KBC60, and $3,000 for the PBC30.

In addition to finish prizes, there will be first, second, and third prizes ($500, $300, and $200) awarded to the fastest teams in each of the five legs of the 250-mile race. To date, Irving Woodlands, Valley Auto, and Fraser Paper have each contributed $1,000 for these stage prizes. To be eligible for stage prizes, teams must be among the first six to finish the entire race.

Irving Woodlands has also donated an extra $1,000 to be disbursed as Best Kept Team awards to three mushers who excel in dog care.

The scoring of animal care was inspired by Robert Rooks, D.V.M. of Fountain Valley, California, who donated the entire purse for the 1995 race. Teams are scored by the race veterinarians for the following categories: attitude, hydration, feet, lameness, and general condition. This is now an established feature of the Can-Am 250 races. However, it has become evident that the original system of combining finish time and team condition to determine final placement was too difficult to administer fairly. Mushers were unsure about whether they should slow their dogs down to gain more condition points or speed them up to gain finish points. Mushers and veterinarians both worried that “no fault” injuries might affect finish prize placements.

To avoid these problems and allow the vets to concentrate on scoring team condition without consideration of placement, the CAC will no longer combine points for team condition and finish placement. Team condition points will determine which three racers get the Best Kept Team awards, but in order to keep this award tied to truly competitive racing, the rules committee has limited eligibility for the BKT awards to the first six finishers in the NTC250.