For Hop Issaluk, Pakallak Tyme brings up a difficult but grounding memory.

April 30th, 2009, Issaluk remembers racing Jason Todd’s snowmobile in his first-ever Pakallak Tyme cross country race as a junior. After four or five laps, his snowmachine had a malfunction.

“I continued as long as the sled would go until it could no longer drive,” said Issaluk.

He got to Todd’s truck feeling down, when Todd told him to lighten up and that it was just a race.

But Issaluk had a gut feeling at the time something more was going on.

As the day went on, Issaluk returned to Todd’s place after lunch, when Todd received a phone call for Issaluk.

“I answer and the only words I hear are, ‘You need to go to the hospital,’” recalls Issaluk.

When he arrived, his sisters were outside crying.

His father, Luke Issaluk Sr., had died from a heart attack that day while competing in the dog mushing race.

“My dad passed away doing what he loved,” said Issaluk.

Every year since, Pakallak Tyme has been an emotional event for Issaluk.

“I wish all the participants of the races nothing but the best,” he said.

“Love each and every one of you. Many of you don’t know it, but your smiles and eagerness to race keeps me motivated.

Keeps me from falling on my knees.”

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