Blayne “Buddy” Streeper won the 75th running of Open North American Championship sled dog race on Sunday in Fairbanks. Streeper, of British Columbia, came from behind Sunday to best fellow Canadian Anny Malo by under 2 seconds to claim his seventh ONAC title. Malo set the course record on the first of three days of racing.
Another Canadian, rookie racer Eric LaForce was third. Fifteen teams completed the 3-day, 70-mile sprint competition. Streeper set a new course record for day three, enabling him to overcome time lost during the first 2 days of racing.
“My first days I had tired dogs, I actually had to run a tired team the last few miles, and that’s not how I like to finish. And then on the second day I actually had to stop and switch leaders on the trail,” he said.
Streeper gave credit to his dog Timber for helping him turn things around on day 3. He said he put Timber in lead based on a dream his wife Lina had before the race.
“Lina said she dreamt about the race a couple times. I said ‘who was in the lead?’ She said, ‘Timber’s in the lead.’ I said, ‘alright, Timber’s going,” said Streeper.
Streeper thanked volunteers with the Alaska Dog Mushers Association for holding the event, which was canceled last year due to the pandemic.
“You guys are setting not just the standard for here at this race track, but around the world. We need you guys and we’re honored to come up here and be part of this race,” he said.
Streeper took home $54,000 for the Open North American Championship win. The 7th title puts him ahead of Roland “Doc” Lombard’s 6 ONAC victories, and 1 behind George Attla’s 8. Egil Ellis has the most ONAC wins with 12.
Streeper said he’ll be back to race Open North American again next year.
This race previously stated that 16 teams finished the competition. There were in fact just 15 teams.