Nunavik Ivakkak racers hold on through bumpy ride
"The worst ice conditions I’ve ever seen in my five years of dog teaming"
Ivakkak racers are en route to Nunavik’s smallest community, Aupaluk, April 5, after a bumpy ride leaving Kangirsuk April 4.
At the end of the race’s fourth day, mushers made it about 40 kilometres south of Kangirsuk to a camp called Nuluartalik, where Tasiujaq mushing team Willie Cain Jr. and Daniel Cain Annahatak hold a 30-minute lead.
Right behind them are Puvirnituq mushers Peter Ittukallak and Putugu Iqiquq.
Mushers reported a rough ride down Ungava Bay April 4, with blowing snow and difficult ice conditions for teams as they crossed over the Payne River.
Team 10 lead musher Aisa Surusilak had to hit the SOS on his SPOT device mid-crossing when his dog team detached from the qamutik, Ivakkak officials posted in an April 5 update.
The musher had to return to Kangirsuk to be reunited with his dogs, with the help of a rescue crew.
Veteran musher Harry Okpik’s sled broke down during the same river crossing April 4, and he also had to return to Kangirsuk for repairs before continuing on the race trail.
Kuujjuaq musher George Kauki said he was fortunate his sled didn’t break April 4 as the team travelled over treacherous sea ice.
“We went through hell today, the worst ice conditions I’ve ever seen in my five years of dog teaming,” Kauki told Ivakkak crews.
“I had to be calm for the dogs and had to make it through with other teams. We encountered some muskox and a fox on the trail,” he added. “My partner had to run in front of the dogs on the rough sea ice in order to get through it.”
All 12 teams remain in the race and are expected to reach the finish line in Kuujjuaq by the end of the week.
2016 marks Ivakkak’s 15th year; the race was launched by Makivik Corp. to revive the use of the Inuit husky dog team as a means of winter travel.
Ivakkak translates into English as sled dogs travelling at a comfortable pace.
You can follow the race at www.ivakkak.com.