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Canadian wins Nunavut Quest sled dog race in 40 hours

CBC NewsEye on the Arctic

Andy Attagutalukutuk, of Igloolik, a community in Canada's eastern Arctic territory of Nunavut, won this year's Nunavut Quest dog team race. 

Racing from the community of Igloolik to the community of Arctic Bay, Attagutalukutuk completed the distance of about 500 kilometres in 40 hours, 12 minutes and nine seconds.

Arctic Bay's Andrew Taqtu took second and Peter Siakuluk of Hall Beach took third place. The race took seven days to complete.

Irene Willie, a race co-ordinator from Arctic Bay, said after the race was over on Thursday evening, committee members exchanged a dog whip.

"It was given to a Repulse Bay dog musher, and then that guy passed the dog whip to the Igloolik guy," she said in Inuktitut. "It represents next year's race which is from Repulse Bay to Igloolik."

She said eight out of the nine racers finished and she thanked everyone who helped make it a success this year.

Clyde River to Qikiqtarjuaq

Esau Piungituq of Clyde River won a 500-kilometre race from the Arctic community Clyde River to the community of Qikiqtarjuaq in April.

Ten of 11 teams finished that race.

Jake Gearheard of Clyde River, who finished second, said the first three days were a smooth ride as they traversed land, but when they hit the sea ice all of a sudden things slowed down.

Gearheard said he saw snowmobiles that were supporting the teams scattered all over the place.

"They were all stuck," he said. "Then I was thinking why were they all stuck and then all of a sudden — the sled and the dogs — we all just sank in this really deep slush.

"Some of my dogs are pretty big so they were sinking up to their shoulders, other dogs of mine that are little bit smaller were actually swimming through that."

Gearheard said the weather also halted the race for about two days.

When the teams finally made it to Qikiqtarjuaq they stayed in the community for almost a week celebrating, feasting and dancing.

He said the return trip was even more challenging as the slush got worse. Gearheard said he's happy to be home feasting on Qikiqtarjuaq clams that were part of his $5,000 runner-up prize.

The first place winner took home $10,000.

This story is posted on Alaska Dispatch as part of Eye on the Arctic, a collaborative partnership between public and private circumpolar media organizations.