N.H. musher wins 100-mile northern Maine race


EAGLE LAKE (AP) – After a highly competitive run in which the lead changed several times, a Jefferson, N.H., man emerged as the winner of this weekend’s Irving Woodlands Eagle Lake sled dog race covering a course of more than 100 miles in icy northern Maine.

“It feels good to win, but I never had a race that was close like this before,” Matt Carstens said after the closing ceremony Sunday. “Although it was very interesting, I hope I never have another one like this.”

Carstens ended up with a 1 minute, 1 second advantage over Stephane Duplesis of St. Zenon, Quebec, making him the first two-time winner of the race in which mushers competed for a share of the $5,000 purse put up by Irving Woodlands.

The two men completed the 108-mile route, which started and ended in Eagle Lake, in slightly more than 10 hours.

Despite fierce winds that drove mid-teen temperatures to below-zero wind chills at the race’s start at 11 a.m. Saturday, a couple of hundred people turned out to see the two dozen mushers take off Saturday morning.

The winds made some parts of the trail icy and caused some mushers to scratch because of footing problems with their dogs and because sliders beneath their sleds gave way, race director Tenley Bennett said Sunday.

Only 37 seconds separated Carstens and Duplesis when they arrived at the midpoint checkpoint at the Moose Point Camps on Fish Lake. On the return run, the two veteran mushers passed each other three more times before Carstens took the lead for good just four miles from the finish line.

It was the third running of the race, which is a warm-up to the 250-mile Can-Am sled dog classic, also in northern Maine. The Eagle Lake run allows mushers the feel of being on a trail overnight and in a race that takes more than 10 hours to complete.

All teams must take a four-hour rest break at the mid-point of the race. in Eagle Lake.

Third place went to Jeffrey Beril, of St. Zenon, Quebec.