Buddy Streeper of British Columbia came from behind Sunday in Fairbanks to narrowly capture his seventh title in the Open North American Championships, one of sled dog racing’s oldest and most prestigious races.
Streeper made up a gap of more than 40 second to beat Quebec’s Anny Malo by 1.6 seconds after three days and about 70 miles of racing. His final-day run provided a dramatic conclusion to the 75th edition of the sprint race known as “the granddaddy of them all.”
The only mushers with more Open North American titles are Egil Ellis (12) and George Attla (8). Coming into this year’s race, Streeper was tied with Roland “Doc” Lombard with six championships.
Streeper, who is from Fort Nelson, led a Canadian sweep of the top three places. Second-place Malo is from Saint Zenon and third-place Erick Laforce is a rookie from Lanoraie, Quebec.
Malo, who was coming off her third victory in the Wyoming Stage Stop race, gained early control by setting a track record in Friday’s 20-mile heat.
She held onto the overall lead in Saturday’s 20-mile heat, but Streeper and Laforce narrowed the gap.
Heading into Sunday’s 27.9-mile final run, those three were separated by less than 50 seconds. Malo held a 47.2-second lead over Laforce and a 42.6-second lead over Streeper.
Streeper’s dogs had just enough zip on Sunday to make up the difference, even though Streeper had to stop to put a dog in his sled basket.
He made the run in 92 minutes, 10.9 seconds. Malo clocked 92:55.1 and Laforce 94:48.1.
Streeper topped the 16-team field with a three-day total time of 219:47.7, followed by Malo (219:49.3) and Laforce (222:19.5).
An earlier version of this story had an incorrect total time for Streeper.