A rough and tough race

Derek Montague
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This year’s event had a little of everything; proved too much for many teams

Team Goose Bay (Team No. 5) arrives in their hometown to a loud ovation with Strangemore-Dumaresque (Team No. 17) right behind them. Team Goose Bay, unfortunately, wouldn’t finish the race due to a mechanical problem. Strangemore-Dumaresque would cross the finish line in seventh place.

The 2014 Cain’s Quest may go down in history as the toughest and most exciting snowmobile endurance race in Labrador’s history.

This year’s course took racers through more than 3,300 kilometres of rugged Labrador terrain. The racers faced sleepless days and extremely cold weather, among other emotionally and physically challenging obstacles.

Some 29 determined teams started the race, but only eight would cross the finish line.

“It was harder then we anticipated,” said Cain’s Quest Chair, Todd Kent. “I was expecting less than half (to finish) for sure. It’s always around half at the best of times.”

“Without a doubt, this is the toughest one we’ve done. I’m not sure if it’s so much the course as the weather. They had extreme cold conditions through the entire route.”

The race, which took place from March 1-9, may have been hard, but it was also extremely exciting and dramatic. During such a long, hard, course, no lead was safe. One mental slip or mechanical failure could destroy a team’s hope of finishing the race.

The Innu Hawks (Team No. 00) had a nearly eight-hour lead over the rest of the racers, heading west towards the finish line. But, between Happy Valley-Goose Bay and Churchill Falls, one of their snowmobiles became stuck in soft snow, forcing the Hawks to bow out of the race.

“I wasn’t surprised … the race changed up (the lead) so many times,” said Kent. “Every year, the race changes up many times, sometimes within a 24-hour period. One thing I learned from this race; it’s anybody’s game and it’s not over until it’s over.”

The duo of Jason Watkins and Kevin Willmott (Team No. 73) crossed the finish line first, taking home a cash price of $50,000.

Social media and satellite tracking helped made the Cain’s Quest more exciting for the fans. This year, the race was tracked by Yellowbrick Tracking that, according to Kent, has been one of the better systems used in Cain’s Quest history.

Since the new tracking system made it more enjoyable for people to keep up with the race from their computers, the fans felt more involved.

“It’s probably the most exciting one we’ve had yet,” said Kent. “We had good satellite tracking this year and it was a high topic on social media.”

“We had people who kept feeding updates to Facebook, Twitter, and that sort of thing.”

The 2016 Cain’s Quest will look similar to this year’s. According to Kent, the 3,300 kilometre course, which goes through almost every region of the Big Land, will remain the same.

“One of the big things that stick out in Cain’s Quest moreso this year, is the connection made between all the regions of Labrador … and all the different cultures,” said Kent.

“It’s a warm feeling, and anyone involved in Cain’s Quest, it makes them proud to see that happen.”

Of course, like any major sporting event, Cain’s Quest wouldn’t have taken place in 2014 without volunteers. This year’s volunteer number was well over 200.

“These people do it for nothing,” said Kent. “They just volunteer to make this work.”

Meanwhile, the following is a list of those who finished the race, and their position:

  1. Watkins-Willmott (Team No. 73);
  2.  Backcountry Ravens (Team No. 77);
  3. SnoXcapes (Team No. 7);
  4. Nain (Team No. 59);
  5. Kuujjuaq Wolf Pack (Team No. 38);
  6. Northern Lights Racing (Team No. 8);
  7. Strangemore-Dumaresque (Team No. 17);
  8. The Great Ones (Team No. 99);

derek.montague@thelabradorian.ca

Geographic location: Labrador, Happy Valley, Goose Bay

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