A helicopter pilot, commercial fisherman, paving contractor and others traded their regular jobs to lead dog-sled teams on a 250-mile (400-kilometer) dash across the wilderness of northern Maine.
The Can-Am Crown kicked off Saturday in Fort Kent with mushers from Maine, Minnesota, Wisconsin and several Canadian provinces.
The last race, in 2020, produced the closest finish in Can-Am history. Denis Tremblay, of Saint Michel des Saints, Quebec, won by 35 seconds over Katherine Langlais of Glenwood, New Brunswick.
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Both are among more 18 participants.
Ten-time winner Martin Massicotte, of St. Tite, Quebec, was absent from the lineup for a second-straight year. He was competing in the thousand-mile Iditarod in Alaska, also starting Saturday.
The course takes mushers to Portage Lake and then to the town of Allagash before looping back to Fort Kent by Monday morning.
The weekend race comes after a one-year absence because of the pandemic.
In addition to the signature 250-milers, there were additional races with distances of 100 miles (160 kilometers) and 30 miles (48 kilometers).
Among the participants in the 30-miler is 17-year-old Caleb Hayes, whose team was attacked by a moose while training Tuesday night. Hayes had to shoot and kill the moose to end the attack.
Each race is different. The temperature plummeted to minus-38 during the first Can-Am Crown and then soared to 61 degrees a year later.