Nunavik’s Ivakkak racers cross the finish line March 18
Kuujjuaq dog team owner Allen Gordon takes the race's top prize
Kuujjuaq musher Allen Gordon and his partner Johnny Kooktook are the 2014 winners of Nunavik’s Ivakkak dog team race.
Gordon, who is the executive director of Nunavut Tourism when he’s not running his dogs, crossed the finish line in Tasiujaq March 18, completing the race with a time of 31 hours and 46 minutes.
Not far behind him: Puvirnituq mushers Aisa and Richard Surusilak, who raced in Ivakkak for the first time this year.
But Ivakkak’s closest race came between its third- and fourth-place racers. Willie Cain Jr. and Daniel Annahatak crossed the finish line in their hometown March 18 just two seconds ahead of Puvirnituq mushers Peter Ittukallak and Juani Nutaraaluk.
Ittukallak and Nutaraaluk finished first in the 2013 edition of Ivakkak.
“The race went very well,” said Ivakkak coordinator Charlie Alaku. “The weather from (the race’s starting line in) Kangiqsujuaq to Kangirsuk was incredible. We only had a one-day delay in Aupaluk.”
The biggest challenges were the glaring sunlight along the white tundra, and the hard snow in some bumpy sections of the trail, Alaku said, although mushers reported that riding along sections of frozen sea ice was smooth.
The 2014 edition of Ivakkak set off from Kangiqsujuaq March 10, with 11 teams and 128 dogs.
Alaku said nine dogs from different teams experienced minor injuries along the race trail and were picked up and treated by the race’s veterinarian Julie Decrocq.
Residents of Tasiujaq put on a community feast March 18 at the local Ajagutak school to welcome the mushers and many of their family members who arrived in town to celebrate their victories.
That’s where the race’s top finalists picked up their prizes; first place finisher Allen Gordon received $9,000 from Makivik Corp., the race’s main organizer and sponsor, along with a $12,000 gift certificate from the FCNQ, and other prizes from race sponsors like the KMHB, First Air and Nunavik Creations.
Second-place musher Aisa Surusilak received $10,000 from Makivik while third-place racer Willie Cain Jr. took home a prize of $6,000.
Aisa and Richard Surusilak both received the rookie of the race award, while Kuujjuaq musher Junior May received a veteran award for being Ivakkak’s most experienced musher.
2014 marked the 13th edition of Ivakkak. The race was first held by Makivik in 2001 to encourage Nunavimmiut to carry on with dog sledding, a practice that was nearly wiped out following the killing of Inuit dogs in the 1950s and 1960s.