FORT KENT, Maine — Katherine Langlais, of Glenwood, New Brunswick, is the 2023 Can-Am Crown 250 winner, making history as the first woman ever to win the competition in race history. It also marks the first time the winners of all three Can-Am Crown International Sled Dog races are women.
Langlais was joined in the winner's circle by Diane Marquis of Quebec City, who won the 30-mile race, and Florence Shaw, also of Quebec City, winner of the 100-mile race.
"I have no words. I don't think I've realized it yet, so it'll probably dawn on me tomorrow," Langlais said.
This year marks the 30th anniversary of the race in Fort Kent.
"I work full-time, and all of my time off is with the dogs. For the dogs, our love for the dogs, all of our money goes to the dogs. So, coming in [the] first place is something that you dream of, and dreams are not always attainable. I just checked that one off the list, so that's how it feels," Langlais said.
"This weekend, it's women, Canadian women, that came in first place in the 30, 100, and myself in the 250. So yeah, I'm really, really happy," Langlais said.
Langlais' fight to the finish didn't come without challenges.
"It was hot, so, you know, the dogs were basking in the sun, not eating very much. So, I think all of us as mushers, we were wondering, 'Huh, what's the next leg gonna look like?'" Langlais said.
Langlais is no stranger to the Can-Am. she's been competing in the race for more than a decade. Two years ago, she placed second by less than a minute, and in 2022, she scratched. But this year, she was determined.
"It definitely gave me an urge to try and get to the finish line first," Langlais added.
The 250-mile trail wraps through forests, lakes, fields, and hills of the Upper Saint John Valley. It's 250 miles over 48 hours and takes a toll on the mushers, as well as their dogs.
"You work so hard from the beginning to the end of this race, and all of my muscles are done," Langlais said.
For the last decade, Langlais has been competing in the Can-Am alongside her partner, Remy Leduc.
Ahead of the start of the 250 on Saturday, Leduc said they came with one goal in mind.
"We're not here to lose. She's not here to lose," Leduc said.
Leduc, with his team of rookie and veteran dogs, crossed the finish line several hours after Langlais.
Langlais anticipated Leduc's reaction to the news.
"He knew that I'm capable of it, so I think that he's going to be very proud. But he's gonna be, 'Oh I knew it,'" Langlais said.
"I promised her in 2017 that we would make her win the race, would make her the first woman to win the race. Proud of her a lot, of my dogs, of myself, " Leduc said.
Leduc and Langlais shared the special moment as Leduc crossed the finish line with their 13-year-old daughter.
"It's all three of us that gave 100% into it, and this is what it gave," Langlais said.
As for what's next, Langlais said she's looking forward to a shower and getting some sleep.
For the full list of results from the races, click here.