FORT KENT, Maine After 28 years as the first sled race event in New England, the Can-Am Crown 2021 International Sled Dog Race has been canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The competition organizers sent a letter to collectors last week announcing the decision.
After much discussion and careful scrutiny of public safety, the Directors of Can-Am Crown voted to cancel all three races for 2021 due to the COVID-19 virus, the November 18 letter reads in part. Hopefully we can all survive this pandemic without being sick.
The 30-mile Can-Am Crown 250-, Can-Am Crown 100- and Can-Am Crown races draw thousands of spectators and collectors from across the United States and Canada to the opening gates on Fort Kents Main Street each year.
Maine arrester Jonathan Hayes of Poland Kennedy Spring Seppala in Saint David said he considers the cancellation of the races unfortunate.
I understand there are likely to be insurance and liability issues that need to be considered that I know nothing about, and I respect that, Hayes said.
But Hayes said he thought Can-Am could have been held safely.
Mushing is an outdoor sport in the woods where competitors should never interact and can be disguised and socially distanced from a range of dogs, he said. Spectators can be drawn over the Heritage Trail to allow social distance.
Hayes mentioned the famous 1,000-mile Iditarod race in Alaska, which is still scheduled to start at 10 a.m. Saturday, March 6, 2021. The Can-Am race was scheduled to begin on the same date.
He said he wished Can-Am directors had waited a little longer before deciding to cancel the event.
While there is a COVID stroke now, who knows where we will be in March with the virus after the vaccines were released in December, Hayes said.
Border crossings between the United States and Canada in the country due to the pandemic also posed a challenge to Can-Am organizers. Canadian musicians would have been unable to participate if restrictions remained at the time of the race.
Of the many Canadian musicians attracted to Can-Am is Martin Massicotte of St.-Tite, Quebec, who has won a record 10 Can-Am Crown sled racing 250 miles.
Sad sad about the sport of sled dogs, mushers and the organization of the race, said Massicotte. I wonder if the sport will survive COVID. I urge all collectors and racial organizations [have the endurance of] our sled dogs to cross, he said.
It looks like Can-Am will at least be back next year, provided the pandemic is over by then.
The Can-Am board has hired someone to update the Can-Am website, according to the Nov. 18 letter. You can also check out our Facebook page from time to time as we keep you informed about the 2022 races.
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