It's the longest extreme snowmobile endurance race of its kind in Canada, and one of the toughest in the world.
And this weekend, with 26 teams from Canada, the United States and France, the 2011 Cain's Quest will go ahead as scheduled in Labrador.
“We're ready to go,” says Todd Kent, chairperson of the Cain's Quest. “Teams are showing up and all our checkpoints are ready. It's a go for Saturday!”
Last winter, for the first time in its history, organizers of the Cain's Quest were forced to cancel the event. Mild temperatures left many ponds, lakes and wetlands unfrozen, and therefore too dangerous for snowmobilers.
“I've lived in Labrador for 44 years and I don't remember a winter ever being as mild as last year's,” says Kent.
In December of 2010, the weather was proving to be a challenge once again. The winter season was off to a mild start; in order for the race to take place, weeks of cold temperatures, snow and ice are required.
“We did get some cold temperatures for a period of time,” says Kent. “There's not a lot of snow, but we did get the cold and the ice.”
The Cain's Quest is a weather-dependant event because of the race route. Competitors have to cross bays and salt water ice, so they need to be frozen enough to carry the weigh of the snowmobiles.
To avoid the risk of cancellation once again, organizers adjusted the race route this year.
“We were originally supposed to go to Happy Valley-Goose Bay and up the Labrador north coast, but once again the lack of snow and ice prevented us from going there,” explains Kent. “The weather has been a big factor these last couple of years.”
The Cain's Quest will take place from March 12 to March 19. During that period of time, The Weather Network is calling for some light snow, sunshine and the potential for mixed precipitation. At times, temperatures are even expected to climb above the freezing mark.
“At this point we don't mind temperatures that are a little mild and we don't mind a small bit of rain,” says Kent. “But we don't want to see it pouring for an extended period of time.”
The ideal weather forecast for the Cain's Quest?
“Probably -20°C and clear,” says Kent. “But these guys are extreme adventure seekers and hard-core snowmobilers. They sign up for the adventure and the challenge, and I think they'll get that this year.”