Nunavik mushers celebrate second Ivakkak victory

Seven of nine teams completed this year's race, which wrapped up in Inukjuak on March 10

Winning mushers Willie Cain Jr. and Ken Labbe celebrate their second consecutive Ivakkak victory at the finish line on Sunday, March 10. (Photo courtesy of Makivik/Ivakkak)

By Sarah Rogers

Mushers and their dogsled teams run to the finish line in Inukjuak on March 10, cheered on by community members. (Photo courtesy of Makivik/Ivakkak)

Nunavik’s Ivakkak dogsled race crowned its winners on Sunday, March 10, as a pair of mushers from Tasiujaq celebrated victory for the second consecutive year.

Musher Willie Cain Jr. and his partner Ken Labbe and their dog team arrived at the finish line in Inukjuak at mid-day Sunday, completing the race in 57 hours and 41 minutes.

Close behind were past Ivakkak winners. Aisa Surusilak and Carlos Surusilak of Puvirnituq came in second, completing the race in 59 hours, while fellow Puvirnituq mushers Peter Boy Ittukallak and Eric Ittukallak placed third, finishing in 63 hours.

Ivakkak started earlier this year than the race ever has in its 18-year history, with racers departing from Chisasibi on Feb. 26. The starting line was also the farthest south the race has been so far, sending teams up James Bay and along the Hudson coast.

Along the way, two of this year’s nine participating teams had to drop out due to injuries and fatigue among their sled dogs.

Kuujjuaq musher Johnny May Jr. and his partner Jacob Cain decided to pull out of the race in Kuujjuaraapik, while Kangiqsujuaq musher Matthew Arngak and his partner Michael Qisiiq had to quit in the last stretch, and have their dog team transported to Inukjuak by skidoo.

All of Ivakkak’s participants, including its organizers, race crew and community members in Inukjuak, had a chance to celebrate the race’s end at a feast at the community hall on March 10, where the top three teams were awarded trophies and prizes.

Makivik Corp. first launched Ivakkak in 2001 to promote the Inuit tradition of dogsledding in the region.

You can read more in-depth results at www.ivakkak.com.

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