The Can-Am Crown Sled Dog Races March 6,1999 Fort Kent, Maine

A crowd of about 5,000 people turned out to watch the start of the races.

We still had about 24 inches of snow on the ground when the races began, but rain a few days before the race made the trail surface hard and smooth. Very fast times for all three races, the 30, 60, and 250, with record speeds achieved. Foot problems were minimal, but joint problems (shoulder & carpal) were common because of the lack of cushioning.

When the first two teams of the 250 hit St.Froid Lake about halfway to the first checkpoint (Portage), they went sprawling. The good snow cover on the lake had been replaced by glare ice with a deceptive dusting of powder. The two teams were given a 15 minute credit and all teams were then diverted to a snowmobile trail until they bypassed St. Froid Lake and the Fish River.

Distances between checkpoints were approximately as follows:

Fort Kent to Portage: 52 miles

Portage to Rocky Brook: 50 miles

Rocky Brook to Maibec: 31 miles

Maibec to Allagash: 55 miles

Allagash to Fort Kent: 47 miles

Steve Kennedy (Team #2) started the race in spite of being 6 days into the flu, but was too sick to continue beyond Portage.

Weather conditions on the first day of the race were very nice, calm and sunny with a low of 1F and a high of 18F, but the next couple of days felt much colder. Though the lows were about 5F and the highs about 15F, strong March winds and blowing snow made the race a bit more uncomfortable (for the spectators and crossing guards, at least).

Two of the mushers scratched because they got lost and had dog problems. Others scratched because of dog injuries or because their dogs were too tired.


The following tables are sorted according to RRT, the (Race Run Time),i.e., total race time less mandatory layovers.

RRT is usually greater than the sum of the stage times, because most racers exceed their required layover time by some amount.


Race Times

Place Driver Stage #1 Stage #2 Stage #3 Stage #4 Stage #5 RRT
1 Don Hibbs 05:19:39 04:50:45 03:09:11 05:16:13 06:15:15 24:51:40 Millinocket, Maine
2 Andre Nadeau 05:33:29 05:44:14 03:36:11 05:54:01 06:30:07 27:18:07 St. Melanie, Quebec
3 Martin Massicotte 05:40:10 05:46:10 03:40:01 06:36:13 06:40:52 28:23:32 St-Tite, Quebec
4 Mike Murphy 05:55:11 05:59:21 04:19:30 07:46:20 07:07:00 33:12:00 Newberry, Michigan
5 Terry Adkins 05:50:42 06:13:17 04:08:15 07:48:05 09:05:35 33:40:35 Sand Coulee, Montana
6 John Osmond 05:46:55 06:29:11 03:33:10 08:41:45 06:13:28 37:39:28 Shirley, Maine
7 Jim Oehlschlaeger 05:39:12 06:59:55 04:30:52 07:23:10 06:06:10 39:31:10 Cincinnati, Ohio
8 Dean Gulden 06:05:42 06:47:30 03:38:45 07:03:46 06:21:40 40:57:40 Grand Marais, Minnesota
9 Ben Thomas 06:17:35 10:16:40 05:21:56 08:17:35 06:02:30 62:37:30 Garland, Maine

Point Scoring for the Northland Telephone Can-Am 250

(Note: A perfect team condition score would be 300 points)

Place Driver Condition Points Time Points Total Points
1 Don Hibbs 286.9 700 987
2 Andre Nadeau 293.0 630 923
3 Martin Massicotte 271.5 560 832
4 Mike Murphy 289.1 490 779
5 Terry Adkins 286.0 420 706
6 John Osmond 261.6 350 612
7 Jim Oehlschlaeger 289.7 280 570
8 Dean Gulden 279.4 210 489
9 Ben Thomas 272.2 140 412

Don Hibbs, 42, married, 3 children, from Millinocket, Maine. He's the owner of Nabmakanta Lake Camps. Eighteen years mushing experience. He has placed first in the Labrador 400, 2nd and 3rd in the UP200, 10th in the Yukon Quest, 5th in the Grand Portage 99. He won the Can-Am 250 in 1997, defeating four-time champion Andre Nadeau.

Last year (1998), Nadeau missed the Can-Am 250 to race in the Yukon Quest. Hibbs raced the 1998 Can-Am 250 but scratched part way into the race. This year both Hibbs and Nadeau raced again. Hibbs won the race and all five legs of the race, collecting a total of $8,750. ($3,750 for first place in the whole race plus $1,000 for the fastest qualifying time in each checkpoint-to-checkpoint leg)

Dan Bergerson was actually 12 minutes faster than Hibbs on the first leg and Keith Aili was about 7 minutes faster, but they scratched after finishing leg#3 because the hard, icy conditions were damaging their dogs. (Note: Aili beat Hibbs in the 1999 UP200.) Although Hibbs was averaging 10mph thru the first four legs of the race, his speed dropped to 7.5mph for the final leg, which was just enough to keep the fifth leg prize from going to Andre Nadeau, the only racer to finish within 3 hours of Hibbs.

Jim Oehlschlaeger, John Osmond, and Ben Thomas were all faster than Hibbs and Nadeau on the fifth leg, but none of them finished soon enough to be eligible for the leg prize. Can-Am 250 rules require that leg prizes can only be awarded to mushers who finish the entire race within 3 hours of the first finisher.

Andre Nadeau of St. Melanie, Quebec won second place ($2700) and the Best Kept Team award ($500). Second and third places (dog care products) for Best Kept Team were shared by Mike Murphy and Jim Oehlschlaeger.


Results of the 60-mile race are as follows:


# Driver Race Run Time
1 Nelson O'Farrell 04:28:05 St. Malachie, Quebec
2 Tim McEwen 04:30:00 El Dorado, Ontario
3 Marcel Drouin 04:35:00 Embrun, Ontario
4 Boyd Wilson 04:58:00 El Dorado, Ontario
5 Bill Foster 05:29:31 Portland, Maine
6 Scott Shaw 05:50:51 Stirling, Ontario
7 John .Hessert 06:01:45 Cumberland, Maine
8 Steve Hessert 06:04:58 Cumberland, Maine
9 Amy Dugan 06:08:25 Shirley, Maine
10 Terry Knowles 06:11:39 Clinton, Maine


Results of the 30-mile race are as follows:

Place Driver Race Run Time
1 Danny O'Farrell 02:53:30 St. Melachie, Quebec
2 Carl Deblois 02:58:16 Frampton, Quebec
3 Paul Schetagne 03:16:36 Lanoraie, Quebec
4 Tenley Meara 03:28:47 Green, Maine
5 Alex Murphy 03:40:25 Vassalboro, Maine
6 Yves Carrier 03:44:58 St. Francois, New Brunswick
7 John Kaleta 03:48:42 York, Maine
8 Guy Landry 03:50:56 Connors, New Brunswick
9 Remi Marceau 03:53:18 St. Lazare Bellechase, Quebec
10 Paul Huska 04:09:02 East Nassau, New York


I'm attaching this copy of my wife's nature column. She (Gale Flagg) was a judge at Maibec, the third checkpoint in the 250-mile race.

Nature Column #9906 - St. John Valley Times - Week of March 17, 1999


It was a slippery drive into Maibec this year on an ice-covered Michaud Tote Road. On the trip in and the trip out, our slow vehicle speeds allowed us to see the many colorful White-winged Crossbills flying up from the road. There were also some Dark-eyed Juncos, Goldfinches, Purple Finches, and Pine Siskins.

The icy conditions slowed our vehicles, but helped to make the Can Am 250 the fastest race yet. Don Hibbs (Maine) averaged 9.5 mph during his victorious run. His highest average speed of 10.4 mph was from Maibec to Allagash. The five legs of the race vary in distance, and during the longer ones the teams have to be rested more on the trail. Since we cannot time these rests, actual running speeds were undoubtedly much higher at times. In the shorter races, the 30 and 60, one team's average speed was over 17 mph. The other factor in making these races the fastest yet was the cold air temperatures. At Maibec it was close to zero the whole time, and the wind chill from strong northwest winds pulled effective temperatures to well below zero. The dogs love to run in the cold!

Don Hibbs breezed into Maibec at 04:20:41 Sunday morning. He took the straw we provided and spread it around each dog. Judges must count the number of dogs that come in with the musher. The dogs burrowed into the loose straw so quickly, I had to look very carefully to see if one or two dogs were in each straw pile. Don immediately set about feeding his dogs. He put some frozen beaver meat into a pail of hot water and covered it. Then he put some kibbled food into a couple of plastic bowls. He poured corn oil over the kibble, and sprinkled the contents of several herbal capsules into each bowl. To "keep their stomachs happy", he said, "an anti-diarrheal". Don fixed two more bowls. Then he ladled some beaver meat into each and fed the first four dogs. Three ate eagerly, the fourth took a little coaxing. Don continued the process until all were fed. Only then did he take advantage of the food we offered him. After a vet check of his dogs, Don left two dogs with us, and continued on after a stop of two hours and six minutes.

When Terry Adkins from Montana was getting ready to leave Maibec after a three-hour stop, he threw what looked like a big sausage link to each dog. "Makes 'em happy", he said.

Dan Bergerson, from Minnesota, came in right after Terry Adkins. He decided to pull out of the race at Maibec. The ice had taken a toll on his dogs and he didn't want to push them any further. He covered each dog with a 3' x4' quilt of "polar fleece ". The quilts were pink on one side, black on the other. What could be seen was a pile of straw covered with a quilt and in some cases a dog head was visible under the quilt. It looked like cozy protection from the cold winds.

All the mushers experienced problems when they hit icy patches on some roads and ponds. Gratien Gendron's (Quebec) sled whipped around and ran into his dogs. The dogs went tumbling, and in the confusion a dog fight started. Ti-Loup, one of the lead dogs, was suffering from an injury. Gratien wrapped the dog in a blanket and put it in his sled. The trail sweep, Pete Morin, came into Maibec to ask the radio crew to call Gratien's handlers to come. The team was about 6 miles from Maibec. We sent the four vets, hot water, dog food, musher food and drink to the team. The vets came back with Ti-Loup (Little Wolf), who had been given a shot of Dexamethazone to control shock. Ti-Loup was placed on a big quilt near the camp door. A warmed Lactate Ringer's injection was started as an IV into his leg. This solution contains different forms of sodium, calcium, and potassium. The puncture wound from the fight was shaved, cleaned with hydrogen peroxide, and an antibiotic ointment was applied. Then Dr. Keith Gunby gave Ti-Loup a shot of Amoxicillin, (antibiotic). In less than an hour the dog was on his feet and eating! It was wonderful to see Dr. Gunby, Dr. Kathy Jackson, and assistants Andy Jackson and Dave Edgecomb working over Ti-Loup.

In the meantime, ham radio operator Dick Higgins took straw for Gratien's dogs and gave Gratien a warm place to wait for his handlers by inviting him into his truck.

In this year's Can Am 250 we certainly saw the concern of the mushers for their fine dogs, and the excellent care the volunteer vets give to the dogs.