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Trails look ‘great’ for Eagle Lake races this weekend

EAGLE LAKE, Maine — A few weeks of brittle cold and a blizzard which dumped nearly two feet of snow on the St. John Valley have only improved the trails for the Eagle Lake Sled Dog Races this weekend, according to organizers. 

“The trail is looking great. We’ve definitely got enough snow,” event co-organizer and mushing participant Amy Dionne said Monday. She added that “storms predicted for the end of the week shouldn’t affect the race trail at all.”

Dionne said she and five other volunteers, including trail masters Wayne Pelletier and Troy Nadeau, groomed the trails using their own snowmobiles and makeshift groomers they pulled behind them.

“That was the first time I’ve been grooming and let me tell you I will never complain about the trails at a race again. It was super hard work,” she said.

When asked whether the long stretch of sub-zero temperatures had affected training for participating racers and their dogs, Dionne said the answer depended on each musher.

“Training in the cold depends on each individual musher. If you want to win and do well, then you’re training in the minus 40 temps. The dogs do better in the colder temps. The mushers, well, like I said, it depends on how much you want it,” she said.

Spectators will be admitted free of charge to the races, which have returned after ceasing in 2015.

The 2018 inception of the Irving Woodlands/Eagle Lake 100 and Mad Bomber 30 with a total purse of $7,000 has drawn mushers and their teams from eastern North America.

Martin Massicotte of St.-Tite, Quebec, an eight-time champion of the Can-Am Crown’s longest sled dog race — the 250-miler — and his son, Etienne, also compete in the Eagle Lake races.

Martin Masicotte competed in the Eagle Lake races back in 2015 but took a wrong turn and did not finish.

“We marked that turn well, so he is sure to take it (this time),” Dionne said Monday.

Mushers and their teams will take off from Convent Road in Eagle Lake at 10 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 13, for the 100-mile race and at 11 a.m. for the 30-mile race.  The finish line for both races is at the Eagle Lake Recreation Department. Organizers expect mushers to arrive at the finish line between 1 p.m. on Saturday and 6 a.m. Sunday.

The event will wrap up with a breakfast at 7 a.m. Sunday, followed by an awards ceremony at 10 a.m., at the Eagle Lake American Legion. Members of the public are invited to both; the cost of the breakfast is $7 per person.

For more information visit www.eaglelakedogsledraces.com or the group’s Facebook page.

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