Ontario musher earns first 100-mile race win at Eagle Lake event

6 years ago

EAGLE LAKE — Ontario musher Jake Golton finished first in this year’s Irving 100 event at the Eagle Lake Sled Dog Races, with a total race time of 10 hours and 15 minutes, crossing the finish line at 12:37 a.m. Sunday.

The 26-year-old, who grew up in a dog sledding family, came in ahead of Quebec mushers Martin Massicotte and Andre Longchamp, who finished second and third, respectively.

“It was really tough,” Golton said Sunday at the musher’s breakfast at Eagle Lake’s American Legion hall. “It was one of the toughest courses I’ve raced on.”

Golton said the course proved more hilly than most others he has competed on, which made it difficult for him and his team of Alaskan huskies.

“The dogs did really good,” said Golton, who earned his first victory in a 100-mile event.

Mushers were presented checks and awards Sunday morning, following breakfast. Many praised the organizers and volunteers for making the races a success and creating a quality event.

Golton, who was the first racer out Saturday morning, dropped off two dogs during the race, but used the speed of his remaining 10 animals to stay ahead of the pack.

The top teams in the 100-mile race started coming into the finish area at the Eagle Lake skating rink shorty after 12 a.m. Sunday. The top four teams all finished within 90 minutes of one another. Most other mushers arrived between 1:45 and 3:30 a.m. Sunday.

Gilles Hanois was the final 100-mile racer across the line at 5:08 a.m. Sunday, making it a long night for the dog teams and race volunteers. All racers competing in both events — 11 in the 100-miler and 13 in the 30-miler — completed their race.

The race trials hardened up nicely Friday night, after two days of rain and 40 degree Fahrenheit temperatures. Snow flurries, sleet and a cold wind greeted racers and volunteers as the teams took off Saturday morning.

The Francophone Massicotte, speaking though his partner Marie-Josee Dulong said his dogs performed well in the 100-mile race.

“Everything was good,” he said. “The trail conditions were perfect.”

Massicotte is an eight-time winner of Fort Kent’s Can-Am Crown 250, and Longchamps has finished second in that race several times.

Can-Am veteran Ashley Patterson of Shirley, Maine, raced to a ninth place spot in this year’s 100-mile race, although she said she is not one to focus on times or results.

“As long as you finish, you did good,” Patterson said at Sunday’s breakfast.

Patterson enjoys working with the dogs and watching them race. The animals pick up on the musher’s mood and attitude out on the trail, she said.

Golton’s other team, run by 21-year-old Aurora MacKenzie, came in third in the event’s other race, the Mad Bomber 30-miler, which also started Saturday morning.

Tristan Rivest of Quebec and his team raced to the top spot in the 30-mile race Saturday. Kris Sampson of Ontario finished second in that race.

State representative and Eagle Lake resident John Martin worked with race organizers to help secure sponsorships and prize money for this year’s Eagle Lake races.

Veteran St. John Valley musher Amy Dionne, with the help of a committee of local mushing enthusiasts, has successfully returned the event to competition after it ceased in 2015.

“It’s great to have the races back,” Martin said Saturday.

At Sunday’s breakfast and awards, Dionne said she was happy the event was a success this year.

“It went well overall. And I’m tired,” she said with a laugh.

Dionne added that she hopes to be a participant in next year’s Eagle Lake races, rather than act just as an organizer.

“Now that we know what we are doing, it should be easier next year,” she said.

For more information about the Eagle Lake races, visit eaglelakedogsledraces.com.