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Most years, I try to make it to my hometown of Fort Kent Maine for the annual Can-Am International Dog Sled Race. It’s been happening for seventeen years and the total purse is up to $40,000.
Usually taking place the first weekend of March, Main Street is covered with snow and racers tackling the 30 mile, 60 mile, or 250 races all start off with cheering crowds around them. The 250 mile race qualifies races for the Iditarod, and a few say this race is even tougher than that.
The event is well organized and well staffed with volunteers, and I think thanks at least in part to social media, this year’s crowd was among the largest ever.

The YouTube video clip from a documentary film flew around YouTube.
A few filmmakers made a Can-Am film last year and put the preview clip on Youtube as pretty much the only thing on this user’s Youtube channel. As the event approached, I noticed several of my Facebook friends posted it. It was so well done, I posted it.
As one of the commenters wrote, “My third year as a Can Am vet is about to happen, and I thank you for the video reminder of why I do it!” It’s no doubt that a well told story will get more people interested in a cause, and it’s no doubt this film will draw new spectators for years to come. (If you want, you can buy the video off the Can-Am website… well, sort of anyway.)

The race website is very up-to-date with content.
My friend Sarah’s father is one of the people who maintains the Can-Am website. While the design is very basic, throughout the weekend it was updated multiple times an hour with times, places, and other information about all three races. There is even a map where each individual musher’s location was tracked through time. (To see the dots on the map, click this link and then the ‘Track!’ button. You can click on different dots to see a headshot of the racer and track their individual progress in relation to other mushers.)

While there was a communal atmosphere at Lonesome Pine Ski Trail 24 hours a day during the race (with race results poster and a team of volunteers), the website allowed more people to keep in touch with the race. The website even has photos, rules, and all kinds of other historic content.
I do wish for next year though that they’d incorporate a Twitter feed (maybe everyone using the #canam hastag?) or a Flickr gallery where users could also add their content to the website and feel a part of it.
But I think the main idea here is the lack of flashiness and design just goes to show you that in creating a web presence, content is king and if you have up-to-date and useful information, people will keep visiting your website… and keep caring about what your website is about. (That said, if you can make it slick looking, even better!)
All in all, it was a great weekend and I enjoyed my race experience. It’s nice to see people really come together around an event, both online and off.

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