Snow is low but 2024 Can-Am sled dog race is still set for early March

2 months ago

FORT KENT, Maine – Despite warmer weather canceling other sled dog races in the country, the upcoming 2024 Can-Am Crown race is still set for March 1-5.

The race organization posted via social media on Feb. 14 that the race is still on, and Can-Am Media Advisor Andrew Birden confirmed it on Friday.

Birden said there is a slightly higher number of participants signed up for the 250-mile race this year, which may be due to cancellations elsewhere. He added that the upcoming Fort Kent race is among the only events of this kind in the lower 48 states this year.

It might be rough sledding for the racers. Aroostook County is seeing lower than normal snowfall totals this year. Fort Kent has received about 56.5 inches of snow so far this season and the current snow depth is about 10 inches, according to Corey Bogel, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Caribou. Bogel said these totals are roughly two feet below the average for Fort Kent.

Birden said this year’s weather has not had an impact on planning the event, but that the organization has been getting a number of questions from residents who are concerned about whether or not the event will still be taking place this year.

“We are definitely keeping an eye out, but we’re confident,” he said. “Our primary concern is the safety of the mushers and their dogs. We want this race to be an exciting time.”

The event brings in a large international crowd and would not be possible without the help of countless volunteers, ranging from those who help set up checkpoints and veterinarians who make sure the animals are healthy to search and rescue teams.

As of Feb. 16, 15 mushers have signed up for the Irving Woodlands Can-Am Crown 250 race, according to the Can-Am website. Eighteen mushers are signed up for the 100-mile 2024 Willard Jalbert Jr. Can-Am 100, and 30 are signed up for the 30-mile Pepsi / Native Dog Food Can-Am 30.

Registrations for the 30 mile race are now full. Any new registrants will be placed on a waiting list. Entry fees for the 250, 100, and 30-mile races are, respectively, $350, $250, and $175. 

The race officially starts on Saturday, March 2 from 8 a.m. to noon, but teams will need to register and undergo vet checks and mandatory meetings throughout the day on March 1.

The 30-mile racing teams will typically return on March 2 from noon to 5 p.m., with the 100-mile teams returning later that night up until the next morning. The 250-mile teams will then arrive between March 4 and 5.

A meal and awards banquet and volunteer recognition will take place at the Knights of Columbus Hall between 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. on March 5. 

The race has taken place for over 30 years, with the Can-Am Crown organization being founded in 1992 as a way to provide a sled dog racing opportunity for the international community and to bolster tourism. The first 250-race took place on Feb. 16, 1993, and featured teams from Maine, Ontario, Quebec, and New Brunswick competing for a $10,000 purse.