Just finishing the Alcan 200 International Snow Machine Road Rally is an accomplishment.
Only 15 of 24 entries did it on Saturday in the 45th annual event, deemed the world’s longest snowmobile race.
Haines Junction’s Ken Schamber finished the 250-kilometre course from the Canada-U.S. border outside of Haines, Alaska, to Dezadeash Lake and back in one hour, 49 minutes and 44 seconds, including three mandatory fuel stops.
He was one of four sledders in the 441cc-open fan class and the only one to finish. Schamber, who could not be reached for comment, also won the division in 2012 with a time four minutes slower.
Schamber was the only Yukoner to win a division, but Whitehorse’s Nathan Peterson came pretty darn close.
“I was quite a bit faster this year,” said Peterson. “My average speed was 96.6 miles an hour.”
The 24-year-old sped to second place in the 441-550cc liquid class after placing third the previous two years.
Conditions were much warmer than usual and racers started out with about eight kilometres of dry pavement on the road before hitting snow.
“It wasn’t too bad,” said Peterson. “There was a little bit at the beginning of the race, other than that, it was a pretty good road. Not too much wind, little bit of fog, but that’s to be expected.”
Peterson was just 38 seconds behind first place in his category and over eight minutes ahead of third. Not bad considering his sled motor was a pile of parts a few days before the race.
“I had quite a bit of trouble leading up to the race. I completely rebuilt my motor three or four days ago before the race,” said Peterson. “It was kind of a mad rush to put it back together and it turns out it ran pretty good.”
Whitehorse’s Mario Poulin slipped a spot from last year in his category, placing third in the 0-440cc fan class.
Poulin, who finished in 1:53:19, has been racing the Alcan for about a quarter century, and so has his sled. For the umpteenth time he was the Oldest Sled award, cruising to the finish on his 1980 Polaris TX 440cc.
Peterson’s brother Justin, also of Whitehorse, took third in the 0-440cc liquid class with a time of 2:21:40.
Justin, who was the only Yukoner to win a division last year, was given the Red Lantern award as the last sledder to reach the finish.
“He had a little bit of mechanical troubles,” said Nathan. “A lot of people don’t finish, so even finishing is a step in the right direction.”
Contact Tom Patrick at