Our Maine Street's Aroostook Issue 7 : Winter 2011 - Page 48

He said the dogs dragged him about 30 feet before they stopped. Andre Nadeau went on to win the 250-mile race in 1994, 1995, and 1996. His winning streak was finally broken in 1997, when he came in second to Don Hibbs of Millinocket, Maine. In 1994, organizers added a 60-mile race, which attracted 11 contestants. The 250-mile race that year had 16 contestants plus one ski-jorer (Barry Dana). The weather was disastrously unusual for midFebruary, with temperatures rising to 60/F during the first day. Both races had to be called about halfway through because of thinning ice on water crossings. In 1997, a 30-mile race was introduced, and our race date was changed to the first weekend in March to avoid conflicts with midwestern races. Entries immediately began to pick up to the point where we had to limit each race to 30 entries in order to efficiently handle the teams on Main Street and at the remote checkpoints. The Can-Am races have gained a great reputation because of the friendly atmosphere; well-marked, scenic, but difficult (hilly) trails; substantial purses; a Main Street start with a large turnout of spectators; and many details which help the race to run more smoothly. Among the many major and minor details are race programs, brochures, posters, veterinary diaries, name badges on volunteers, carefully crafted race rules (with consideration to musher input), a very efficient send-off of teams from the starting line, experienced race marshals and veterinary staff, ham radio communications, search and rescue personnel, crossing guards, checkpoint cooks, host families, media coverage, and prompt posting of data to the Can-Am website. Except for the abbreviated race during the 1994 meltdown, Can-Am Crown has never cancelled or called a race in its eighteen year history. First-time competitors in the 30 and 60-mile races often find the courses a lot more challenging than expected. There are hills! A musher’s first time in the 250-mile race is usually a learning experience. Many first-timers ignore the admonition in the rules which states that due to the rigors of the course, drivers will have to exercise good judgment in pacing themselves and their teams. Ignoring this advice usually results in a scratch before the fourth checkpoint. The 250-mile marathon has become known as the longest and most challenging sled dog race in Eastern North America. Satisfactory completion of this race has been accepted as a qualifier for the Yukon Quest and the Iditarod.