Nunavik’s Ivakkak dog sled race to start March 20

Competition has 14 mushers registered for 2018 edition


Ivakkak's first, second and third-place winners of the 2017 race take the podium at an awards ceremony in Ivujivik last year. (PHOTO BY P. DUNNIGAN/MAKIVIK)

Ivakkak’s first, second and third-place winners of the 2017 race take the podium at an awards ceremony in Ivujivik last year. (PHOTO BY P. DUNNIGAN/MAKIVIK)

Starting next week, 14 Nunavik mushers and their dog teams will head north along the Ungava Bay coast.

The region’s 17th edition of Makivik Corp.’s Ivakkak dogsled race were to depart March 19 from the community of Tasiujaq, but that start-date had to be pushed ahead by one day due to poor weather and the delays in travel, organizers said Saturday.

The winner of Ivakkak’s 2017 race, veteran musher Aisa Surusilak, will compete again this year with his co-captain, 18-year-old Aipillie Qumaluk of Puvirnituq.

There are four other dogsled teams from Puvirnituq in this year’s race—the only Nunavik Hudson coast community to take part.

Ivakkak’s other teams hail from Kuujjuaq, Tasiujaq, Quaqtaq, Kangirsuk and Kangiqsujuaq.

“We have one additional team this year and there are newcomers to the race,” said Andy Moorhouse, Makivik’s vice president of economic development.

“The newcomers to Ivakkak 2018 illustrate that many Nunavimmiut are building teams and raising dogs. We grow prouder every year as we have brought back this tradition that was nearly lost decades ago.”

Organizers are predicting the race will last about 10 days, ending about March 30, though route conditions and weather often make it impossible to plan the race schedule.

In 2017, a gastro-intestinal illness affected a number of the sled dogs, delaying the race and forcing some teams to drop out.

In 2018, racers will make village stops along the way in Aupaluk, Kangirsuk and Quaqtaq before reaching the finish line in Kangiqsujuaq, along Nunavik’s Hudson Strait.

New Ivakkak sponsorships will provide some funding to communities along the race route to host activities for mushers and race crews during their overnight stops, along with a finish-line celebration in Kangiqsujuaq.

The 2018 Ivakkak staff includes coordinator Andrew Epoo, trail coordinator Charlie Alaku and race marshal Johnny Oovaut.

Ivakkak’s team also includes a veterinarian, scouts and a support crew to check in on both mushers and their dogs.

Check back to Ivakkak’s website next week for live updates from the race.

Teams registered to race in Ivakkak 2018:

• Team 1: Allen Gordon and Johnny ‘Mangi’ Kootook of Kuujjuaq

• Team 2: Johnny Jr. May and Jacob Cain Snowball of Kuujjuaq

• Team 3: George Kauki and Ronald Ningiuruvik Turner of Kuujjuaq

• Team 4: Aloupa Kauki and Jimmy Kauki of Kuujjuaq

• Team 5: Matthew Arngak and Pauli Qisiiq of Kangiqsujuaq

• Team 6: Sandy Jaaka and Peter P. Qisiiq of Kangiqsujuaq

• Team 7: Willie Cain Jr. and Ken Lebbe of Tasiujaq

• Team 8: Aisa Surusilak and Aipillie Qumaluk of Puvirnituq

• Team 9: Jaanimarik Beaulne and Peter Novalinga of Puvirnituq

• Team 10: Paulusi Beaulne and Mustafa Dedeci of Puvirnituq

• Team 11: Novalinga Novalinga and Juani Uqaituk of Puvirnituq

• Team 12: Harry Okpik and Mathew Airo Okpik of Quaqtaq

• Team 13: Peter “Boy” Ittukallak and Eric Ittukallak of Puvirnituq

• Team 14: Edua Lucassie and Steven Airo of Kangirsuk

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