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Another successful Can-Am in the books as event wraps up with banquet

FORT KENT, Maine — The 27th Can-Am Crown International Sled Dog Races came to a close in Fort Kent as mushers, volunteers and organizers celebrated the completion of the Can-Am Crown 250 race with a dinner banquet and awards ceremony on March 5 at the Knights of Columbus Hall.

Can-Am Crown 250 winner Martin Massicotte of Quebec hugs his wife, Marie-Josee DuLong after crossing the finish line at Lonesome Pine Trails in Fort Kent on Monday, March 4. (Jessica Potila | SJVT/FhF)

Eleven of fourteen mushers registered for the 250-mile race completed the “Iditarod of the East Coast.” Can-Am President Dennis Cyr estimated that this year’s Can-Am drew over 5,000 spectators to the starting line on Main Street in Fort Kent Saturday, with some visiting checkpoints in Portage and Allagash.

“Everything went very well. It is probably the highest praise for the race that we’ve ever had,” said Cyr. “The mushers all loved the trails. We had a mushers critique meeting and there was really nothing negative to be said about the trails. The checkpoints were all great and fully staffed. There were no major issues; everything was really good this year.”

Veteran musher Martin Massicotte of St.-Tite, Quebec, won a record 10th Can-Am Crown 250 when his team pulled across the finish line at Lonesome Pine Trails at about 7 a.m. Monday.

At Tuesday’s banquet, Massicotte, in his native French thanked his dogs, sponsors and the Can-Am organization. Can-Am Vice President Beurmond Banville translated Massicotte’s remarks for the crowd.

“I want to thank the (Can-Am) organization for offering us this fantastic race of high quality, good checkpoints, well-coordinated. The trail is superb, especially this year with all the snow that we received. Bravo to the team that takes care of the trails,” he said. “Thank you to the volunteers. You have a lot of heart. You’re all fantastic.”

Can-Am 250 fifth place finisher Ashley Patterson (left) of Shirley and her husband, musher Mark Patterson, enjoy the Can-Am banquet and awards ceremony on March 5 at the Knights of Columbus Hall in Fort Kent. (Jessica Potila | SJVT/FhF)

Massicotte drew plenty of applause from the crowd when he thanked several members of his family.

“Thank you to my son Etienne for his help and to my sweetheart Marie for all her constant help,” he said.

Massicotte also told those attending Tuesday’s banquet that he will not return to Can-Am next year, but will be back in 2021 to try for his eleventh Can-Am crown.

“Next year I’m going on to something that I’ve worked all my life for; I’m going to run the Iditarod in Alaska. It’s been my dream since I was a young man,” he said, referring to that 1,000 mile race.

Massicotte defeated Andre Longchamps, 48, of Pont-Rouge, Quebec, to win this year’s Can-Am 250, finishing with a trail time of 27 hours, 16 minutes and 7 seconds, besting Longchamps by 29 minutes, 38 seconds.

Katherine Langlais, 35, of Glenwood, New Brunswick, finished the race in third place, just 34 minutes behind Longchamps.

Martin Massicotte (right) holds his trophy for winning the 2019 Irving Woodlands Can-Am Crown 250 race, at a banquet at the Knights of Columbus Hall in Fort Kent on Tuesday, March 5. With Massicotte is Can-Am president Dennis Cyr.

Matt Schmidt, 40,  of Minnesota finished in fourth place and Mainer Ashley Patterson, 33, of Shirley of took fifth.

Mushers who participated in the Willard Jalbert Jr. Can-Am Crown 100 and Pepsi and Allen’s Coffee Flavored Brandy Can-Am Crown 30 were honored at a Sunday morning awards brunch at the Lonesome Pine Lodge. Rico Portalatin of Milo won the 100 mile race with all 15 competitors in that event completing the course. Daniel Coutu of Saint-Claude, Quebec, bested 27 competitors to win the 30-mile race. Two mushers did not finish that event.

Complete results of all three races are available online at the Can-Am website.  

Organizers already are set to meet on March 15 to begin preparing for next year’s races. The Can-Am board meets monthly throughout the year to plan for the event.

“We’re going to do it again,” said Cyr. “The mushers are mostly all planning to come back. We had a lot of rookies in shorter races this year and hopefully that’s (a good indicator of)  the future of the sport.”

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