Anny Malo wins the Fur Rondy
Canadian Anny Malo drives her dog team across the finish line as she earns a come-from-behind victory on the final day of the Fur Rondy Open World Championship sled dog race, Sunday, Feb. 25, 2024. (Bill Roth / ADN)

Anny Malo Wins the 2024 Fur Rondy

It was a great time to be a dog driver in the largest city of Alaska. The Fur Rondy sled dog races were happening this weekend and the race was one for the ages. The weather was almost perfect and there was a buzz in the air that shows the sport of sprint mushing is not only exciting to watch in person but for fans around the world on many livestreams. 

But it was the rookies that stole the show. One in particular was Anny Malo of Quebec, Canada who took home her first Rondy win with an impressive Day 3 run to beat another, rookie Remy Coste. 

Anny Malo is a champion musher with nearly three decades of experience.

But the Quebec resident admitted she was a little nervous about her first start in the Open World Championship Sled Dog Race.

After a sleepless night, Friday’s opening run helped Malo and her team get used to the city route and calmed their nerves. And on Sunday, she came close to a minute behind to become only the second woman to win the Open World Championship title.

“I didn’t sleep at all,” she said. “This is not the route I’m used to on the road with people and moose. I was so nervous. I was happy that the first day was in the book and I knew where I was.”

Malo started the day 54 seconds behind Sweden-based Frenchman Remy Coste, but ran a faster race than Coste for the second time in a row to take the win.

Knowing she had almost a minute to make up, she kept her radio ready for reports on her competitors’ progress, but decided to focus on her race.

“I wanted to put it in my ear and I was like, ‘No, just do your thing.’ Ride with your dogs,” she said. “I knew my team looked really good. And I thought, if I keep going that fast to the finish line, everything will be okay.”

Coste seemed almost unbeatable on the first day, setting a blistering time of 1 hour, 23 minutes and 47 seconds. That put him more than five minutes ahead of Malo and ten-time champion Blayne “Buddy” Streeper, who finished third.

But Malo made up more than four minutes of that deficit on Saturday and won on Sunday by 23 seconds over Coste, who ran eight dogs. That put her in rare company with Roxy Wright, a four-time winner of the race who last won in 2017.

Wright helped Malo’s team as a dog handler over the weekend and was one of the first to congratulate the Canadian musher after the win.

“She was so excited,” Malo said of Wright’s reaction.

Malo’s three-day time was 4:32:59 and Coste finished the race in 4:33:22.

Interested in learning more about sprint dog mushing? We suggest these two books: Spirit of the Wind: The Story of George Attla, Alaska’s Legendary Sled Dog Sprint Champ, and Mushing: A beginners guide to the fascinating sport of mushing

Malo, a rookie, would normally be racing in Manitoba this weekend, but the lack of snow forced the cancellation of the race and gave her the opportunity to compete in the OWC for the first time.

But she’s no newbie to Alaska mushing.

Her blistering run on the opening day of the 75th Open North American Sled Dog Race in Fairbanks in 2021 broke the course record – a record she still holds.

And she said when she got a taste of the open world championship course in Anchorage, it was really all about the dogs.

“You know, we raised these dogs and we train these dogs,” she said. “At the end of the day I just have to do my job so they can do their best and that’s the same every race.” 

Malo’s victory ended Streeper’s streak of five straight victories and his bid to overtake George Attla as the race’s all-time champion. Last year, Streeper was tied with Attla with 10 wins.

Streeper posted the second-fastest times on both first days and posted the fastest time on Sunday at 1:28:40, which was 26 seconds faster than Malo.

Midway through Saturday’s race, he said he had fallen to nine minutes behind Coste. But he changed his team and erased that deficit in five minutes. On Sunday he gained two more points and finished less than three minutes behind Malo.

“I was just floored because these guys and girls are so good,” he said. “They are exceptional dogs, exceptional competition and a great race.”

Streeper, from Fort Nelson, British Columbia, had hoped to make history with his 11th win of the weekend, but is looking ahead to the goal.

“I had five forever, I couldn’t get six,” he said. “And then I went 6-7-8-9-10 and listed five in a row. But I went from 2010 to 2018 without a win. I hope it won’t be that long until the next one, but we’ll go home and study and evaluate. I’m proud of this run today and think if I can come back and do it all three days, that’s my best chance.”