Henry and I took a scenic ride to the top of our state to Fort Kent in February to check out the 23rd annual Can-Am Crown International Sled Dog Races. This year trail conditions were excellent. The trails were packed, temperatures were ideal, and the sun was bright!
The first race was a 250 mile race held in February of 1993. It featured 9 teams from Maine and Canada competing for a $10,000 purse raised entirely through local donations. Mushers experienced blizzard conditions during the first race, with 15” of snow falling in the first 24hrs and temperatures which reached 32 deg below zero.
In 1994 the 250 mile race had 16 entrants and one skijorer, and the very first 60 mile race was introduced. The first 30 mile race was held in 1997 and the purse for all 3 races that year totaled close to $20,000.
The race begins at 8am with the 60 mile mushers leaving from Main Street in Fort Kent. One team is released every 2 minutes in order of bib numbers which are randomly drawn. The 60 mile race is followed by the 30 mile race and then the 250 mile race.
The finish is located at the Lonesome Pine Ski Lodge in Fort Kent. The 30 and 60 mile mushers finish on Saturday, and the 250 mile mushers cross the finish line between Monday and Tuesday.
The hard packed starting trail which follows Main Street is constructed in one day. Locals told us that the town of Fort Kent collects and saves snow during storms to be used to make the near perfect trail which runs down Main Street.