Known as the world’s longest and toughest snowmobile endurance race, participants of Cain’s Quest know they’re in it for the long haul
Totalling more than 3,000 kilometres of travelling through remote environments and unpredictable weather, racers push themselves to the limits in an all out race to the finish line for a hefty prize.
Journey of a Lifetime
With 41 teams consisting of two racers and two snowmobiles, they must follow a route through a variety of deep snow, thick wooded areas, and wide open frozen lakes. The teams must make it to each checkpoint in various communities throughout Labrador.
“We have a route which is basically a set of checkpoints that you need to hit in successive order. How you get there, is up to you. The only conditions are you can’t ride on any roads, or any groomed or prepared trails. It’s all backcountry racing. We’ve certainly got some areas that we consider out of bounds just from a safety standpoint – the racers are notified and well aware about those areas. Other than that, it’s get yourself from point to point,” explains Glenn Emberley, chairman of Cain’s Quest, in an interview with The Newfoundland Herald.
“We have 21 checkpoints this year, four of those checkpoints are considered layover checkpoints at which point the racers will have to stop and rest. What’s really nice is that even though we set some expectations on how to run the checkpoint, each community brings it’s own culture, it’s own spin on how they’re gonna present their checkpoint and it really makes for some pretty interesting stories for sure.”
“We’ve got teams from across Canada, we’ve got some teams from the States and we’ve actually got a team returning again who raced with us in 2016 from Finland. These guys were a huge hit, very popular, very charismatic, excellent sportsmen and we are so happy to have them back again,” Emberley shares.
As for the hefty prize, it totals to a whopping $100,000. First place receives $50,000; second place receives $30,000; and the prize for third place is $20,000. Quite an increase from previous years, which definitely helps attract big name racers from across Canada, and all over the world.
“It tends to attract quality racers,” explains Emberley, “but a lot of these racers will tell you that they’re not necessarily in it for the money. Cain’s Quest is very gruelling, it’s a very tough race. It’s five to six days of very tough racing, through some very tough conditions.”
A Spectator Sport
So, what’s new this year in regards to the race itself? The big improvement that transformed the event into a spectator sport was the implementation of live tracking. Each team carries a GPS satellite tracking device, which is carried over using a fantastic new tool on the official Cain’s Quest website called YB 3 Tracking. This will allow spectators to keep track of racers in real time and see exactly where they are, who’s in the lead, and at what pace they are travelling.
“Obviously, from our perspective, the number one priority was safety. So, to know where they are and if they get into trouble, there’s actually an emergency button on the tracker. The other piece of it of course, is that it turns it into a spectator sport by allowing the fans to get into the excitement by seeing who’s in the lead, and really it’s interesting too to be able to see some of the choices that the racers are making. You can kinda look down from above and see where they’re travelling on a map.”
The online tool will even allow people from home to use functions such as reverse, and quick motion, of the entire trail that the racers pursued. This can give perfect demonstrations on what kind of strategies the teams are coming up with.
Since the inaugural Cain’s Quest in 2006, the race has grown significantly. Both in scope, as well as the number of teams who participate. A race of this magnitude requires a lot of resources in order to be able to pull it off successfully. Emberley explains that they absolutely heavily rely on corporate sponsorship to help out.
“Corporate support is critical to the sustainability of Cain’s Quest. We are proud to announce continued partnerships with government and municipal agencies such as ACOA, Province of NL, Nunatsiavut Govt. and Innu Nation.”
“We are also excited to announce continued support from some of our biggest corporate sponsors. These include Iron Ore Company of Canada, PAL Airlines / Air Borealis, Labrador Mall, Two Seasons Inn, Labrador Motors, Universal Helicopters and Graybar. Finally, Cain’s Quest would not be possible without the tireless efforts of more than 400 volunteers.”
For more information on Cain’s Quest, to access tracking, or to register as a volunteer, please visit www.cainsquest.com