Quebec’s Anny Malo held onto the overall lead in the Open North American sprint sled dog race Saturday, even though she had to stop to put a dog in her sled.
Malo, whose blistering run Friday established a new track record for the fabled Fairbanks race, started Saturday’s 20.4-mile run with 14 dogs in harness and finished with 13 in harness and one in her sled bag.
She placed third in the heat but leads the overall standings by about 37 seconds heading into Sunday’s final heat.
Canadian mushers continued to dominate the 75th edition of one of mushing’s oldest and most prestigious races.
Erick Laforce of Quebec had Saturday’s fastest run (63:49.7) and is second overall, and six-time champion Buddy Streeper of British Columbia had the second-fasted run (64:32.5) and is third overall.
Malo, a Saint Zenon musher coming off her third victory in the Wyoming Stage Stop middle-distance race, had the third-fastest run in 65:32.4, nearly two minutes off Laforce’s pace.
But her Friday run was so swift that she’ll be the final musher to start Sunday when the race’s 16 teams leave the start in reverse order, with the 16th-place team going out first and the first-place team going out last. Malo’s two-day total gives her a 37-second lead over Laforce, who is less than six seconds ahead of Streeper.
Malo on Friday shattered the track record of 62:34.3, set in 2010 by Arleigh Reynolds. She made the run in 61:21.8.
Mushers enjoyed a second straight day of ideal racing conditions and a hard, fast track.
The distance increases to 27.9 miles for the final heat, which begins at 1 p.m. Sunday at Mushers Hall.
This year’s race is being held in memory of Gareth Wright, the Interior musher and dog breeder who won three Fur Rondy titles and two Open North American titles during a racing career that spanned six decades from 1947-1990. He died in 2019.
Saturday’s top times
1) Erick Laforce 63:49.7
2) Buddy Streeper 64:32.5
3) Anny Malo 65:32.4
2-day totals (top 3)
1) Anny Malo 126:54.
2) Erick Laforce 127:31.4
3 Buddy Streeper 127:36.8