New champs, a past champ and a defending champ ruled supreme at the Carbon Hill Sled Dog Race on Sunday with a pair of records left in their wake.
Mount Lorne’s Katherine Sheepway won two divisions, Carcross’ Crispin Studer defended his 30-mile title, Fox Lake’s Mandy Johnson reclaimed her 10-mile title and Ibex Valley’s Virginia Sarrazin won her first race at the 21st annual event held at the Mount Lorne Community Centre.
“I’m very happy with how my races went,” said Sheepway. “It was a great day. I give my dogs all the credit, they worked so hard. I don’t think they have ever run that fast in their life before. It was all dog.”
Sheepway was fast in her races and in between them. The 30-year-old won the 30-mile skijor race, switched dogs and rushed over to race the six-mile race.
She is the first person in Carbon Hill history to win two events on the same day.
RELATED:See full results here.
“It was a tight turnaround,” said Sheepway. “When I got out on the six-mile, then I realized I was a little bit tired. I didn’t think I was before I headed out.”
Not only was Sheepway the top skijorer in both races, she was the fastest overall, beating the sled teams as well.
She finished the 30-mile race, which was actually closer to 38 miles (or 61 kilometres) long, in two hours, 37 minutes and 17 seconds. It was the first Carbon Hill win for Sheepway, who scratched during the 30-mile race last year.
“This is the longest race I’ve ever gone into and finished,” said Sheepway. “Last year the trail conditions were too challenging for my team and I felt like I couldn’t control them. But this year the trail was totally different. It was a different course, it was groomed really well, and that made all the difference. It was nice and wide and smooth and fast.”
Sheepway’s husband Darryl placed second in the 30-mile skijor with a time of 3:07:10, and Cynthia Corriveau came third at 3:28:13.
Katherine then won the six-mile in 20:26, beating Corriveau’s record time of 21:17 set last year.
Catherine Mallett placed second in the six-mile at 24:12 and Natasha Brumer came third overall at 25:10, but was first for sleds.
The way Studer describes the race, he was simply there for the ride.
“Not one thing was a problem,” said Studer. “I was just standing on the runners and waiting until the race is done.”
The 34-year-old won his second straight 30-mile dog sled title with a time of 2:43:15, almost an hour slower than last year.
“There was a lot more uphill (this year), last year we stayed in the valley,” he said.
Studer, who won the 30-mile dogsled race three straight years between 2008 and 2010, has now won the division five times.
Nathaniel Hamlyn claimed second with a time of 2:47:30 and Marine Gastard grabbed third at 3:04:06.
“It’s not my goal for the season, but it’s always fun to win something,” said Studer. “I didn’t train all week because it was so warm – you’d destroy your trail because you’d punch holes in it. So I didn’t go out until yesterday, I did a tiny run.
“Today they ran very good.”
Mandy Johnson took back the 10-mile sled title at record speed. She crossed the finish line in 28 minutes, beating the course record of 30:35 set by Tagish’s Dave Johnson last year.
Mandy also won the division in 2013 and 20 years ago.
“In 1995 I was a teenager and my sister and I would go to as many races as we could – we had just got our licenses,” said Mandy.
Like Katherine Sheepway, Mandy outpaced her husband on the trails. Armin Johnson came in a minute behind his wife for second place. Natalie Sands slid in 10 minutes later for third.
“I was thinking my husband might beat me but he didn’t work enough today. Just kidding,” said Mandy. “We had jokes about it, we were bantering back and forth, before we came to the race. So it was kid of funny that I beat him today.
“We just make sure we both have leaders and we have some yearling dogs, so we split them up evenly,” she added. “These are teams that will go to the Fur Rendezvous (Winter Festival) in Anchorage at the end of
February. It’s a sprint race, but it’s 25-miles each day for three days, so we need more dogs.”
Sarrazin picked up the 10-mile skijor title with a time of 30 minutes, placing third overall on the course behind the Johnsons. She considers it the biggest win of her race career.
“I’ve been training quite a lot for this distance, so I’m happy,” said Sarrazin. “Everything went well on the trail, so I can’t complain.
“I just do sprints; I don’t do long distances. This is my distance. I just go fast on the short distance.”
Claudia Wickert skied to second with a time of 41 minutes, one second ahead of third place’s Damaris Riedwyl.
The Carbon Hill event was the season opener for the Dog Powered Sports Association of the Yukon (DPSAY), which was hosting the event for the first time after the Mount Lorne Community Association stepped down following last year’s race. Organizers were pleased with having 42 teams over the five race divisions, said Sarrazin, who is member of the DPSAY committee.
“We’re really happy with the turnout,” she said. “DPSAY has taken over and we didn’t know if people would still join in the event because it’s quite different … We didn’t want this event to die because it’s a big event in the mushing world.”
“Everybody out on the trail today was really polite and it was just a beautiful run,” added Mandy. “Everybody was super courteous, got the teams over if you passed. It was just nice to see everybody working together out there. It was one of the nicest races I’ve been in for that.”
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