Let's say, for a moment, that you're trying to drum up tourism to your local area. And you don't just want folks to come from the next town over. No, you want to pull in an international crowd, so you're thinking big. Really big. Over 1,000 kilometers (or 621 miles) to start, and perhaps expanding over time if it seems like a good idea.

While tourism isn't the only reason that organizers started the Cain's Quest international snowmobile endurance race in Labrador, Canada back in 2006, it's certainly an extremely important reason.

After all, what does Newfoundland and Labrador have that other areas maybe don't? An extended winter, with loads and loads of snow. What can you do with that much snow? I think you have at least a small idea. Cold, snowy weather is very much a feature and not a bug here.

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In fact, if the conditions aren't full of plenty of snow and cold, it can throw a wrench in works. In 2023, the race was cancelled after one team went through the ice. No one wants that, so scouts doing reconnaissance riding ahead of the 2024 race say the riders will be exercising plenty of caution when the race kicks off in Labrador City on March 3, 2024. If all goes according to plan, the racers will complete their mission back in Labrador City once more on March 10, 2024.

To give you some idea of what it's like, the CBC put together an excellent short documentary about the 2020 run, which they've posted in its entirety here:

How Does Cain's Quest Work?

Teams of two will be flagged off from the starting line with a minute between them, with each team's official time not starting until they do. Riders can have crews to help them, but only under very specific rules and at very specific times.

Riders are given checkpoints they must find the best route to meet, and will be traveling by GPS. Riders also do ride at night, although there are several scheduled layover stops where the clock is paused so racers can stop and rest before they continue.

The 2024 route should take around 3,500 kilometers to complete, which is just under 2,175 miles. This year's route comprises a total of 15 checkpoints, with five layovers scheduled along the way at Happy Valley Goose Bay (10 hours), L'Anse Au Clair (12 hours), Northwest River (eight hours), Nain (12 hours), and Churchill Falls (eight hours). 

Cain's Quest 2024 Route

Cain's Quest 2024 - Route Map

Cain's Quest 2024 Layovers

Cain's Quest 2024 - Layovers

During layovers, the snowmobiles are parked and racers encouraged to rest. Wrenching is meant to take place on the clock, not off it; so everyone, barring exceptional circumstances, is kept away from their machines during these rest periods.

Some racers scouting before the 2024 event told the CBC that they found the conditions concerning, but passable. The 2023 race was cut short sometime after the sixth checkpoint, so competitors aren't hoping for a repeat.

Cain's Quest 2020

Prepping for the 2020 Cain's Quest run.

In all, 37 teams are scheduled to compete in the 2024 event. In past years, competitors have mostly come from Canada, with participation particularly high among riders from the local Newfoundland and Labrador area. Some others have come from the US, Finland, and elsewhere to compete. Both male and female riders are allowed and encouraged to join the fun.

Temps have gotten down to -40C (which is also -40F) in the past. However, the 2024 forecast only calls for a low of around -27C (or -16F) overnight on Sunday. Here's hoping the participants are able to complete this year's Quest without any serious difficulties.

Would you participate in Cain's Quest if you could? It sounds like a true test of heated gear to us. Let us know how you feel about it in the comments. If you've participated or are planning to participate in the future, we'd love to hear from you!

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