Pierceland’s Gerry Walker is the winner of this year’s Canadian Challenge 12-dog race.

Walker crossed the line shortly before 8 a.m. on Friday in downtown La Ronge. He says being laid-back was a key to his success.

“Wasn’t really gonna try to compete,” said Walker. “And then got into it far enough, there’s a checkpoint 25 miles out of here, and I decided the dogs were fresh enough to go by that one and by accident, I caught the competition.”

Walker says this is the fourth time he’s won the event. For his efforts, he takes home $5,500. Walker admits, the cold weather was certainly a challenge this year, especially on the first night.

“When I crossed Montreal Lake, it was 39 below, with a good stiff breeze blowing. That sometimes takes pretty near an hour to cross that lake,” said Walker. “The last run in here, the dogs were getting a little more tired, and I couldn’t stay awake. I was falling asleep on the sled, I was afraid I was going to fall off of it.”

Meanwhile, Marcel Marin of Yellowknife won the eight-dog portion of the Canadian Challenge earlier in the week.

(PHOTO: Gerry Walker (right). Photo courtesy of Jim Williams, Canadian Challenge.)