Cain's Quest Snowmobile Endurance Race wonders where all the ladies are!

By Jackie Mayo
In its 5th year of operation Cain’s Quest Snowmobile Endurance Race has yet to have a female team run the Main Event.  Undoubtedly there are many female snowmobilers out there who are just as hardcore and skilled as the men so why has there not been a female team step up to the challenge?

The challenge is 2500km of back country racing across Labrador with a $65,000 prize purse attached. Teams race day and night from checkpoint to checkpoint guided by GPS and gut instinct.  Of course there is a lot of prep work that racers need to do before the race in order to make sure they are completely knowledgeable about what they will be facing.  Between mapping out the area and customizing their sleds, racers are a full year getting ready for this and in the end, all it takes is mechanical failure to take out the best of teams.

Since 2006, Cain’s Quest has grown in leaps and bounds and has made its mark on the international circuit welcoming teams from various parts of Canada and the United States.  This year is even more special. For the first time ever, a team is registered that is made up of one racer from Quebec and one from France; Guadeloupe, France in the French Caribbean to be exact.  Averaging on 25 teams a year; it is surprising that a woman has not stepped up to the challenge.  In 2010, Michelle Solero and her husband Oliver from Ontario had registered to run but due to unpredictable weather conditions resulting in a severe melt, the race had to be cancelled for safety reasons.  Disappointingly, Michelle is not able to race this year but her interest sparked Cain’s Quest to take a look at why the women have not been represented on the roster.

In response, Cain’s Quest offered to host a Ladies Edition: a scaled down version of the Main Event for ladies only!  The route was set at 650 km in a race from Labrador City to Churchill Falls and back.  Ladies would face the same challenges in terms of weather conditions, terrain and mechanical breakdowns.  The main difference is that for the ladies, Cain’s Quest allows anyone to work on their machines.  The prize purse for this event was $20,000 with three payout positions where the first place teams would take 50%.  It was an opportunity for the ladies to test the waters before signing up for the Main Event.

The response to this event was surprisingly low.  With only 2 teams registered, the Ladies Edition was cancelled.  It is unfortunate that there hasn’t been women participate in Cain’s Quest to date.  Organizers are still hopeful that a female team will register for the Main Event someday and who knows, maybe even take the title as Cain‘s Quest Champions!


Photo by Jonathon Simon.
The Cain’s Quest Main Event kicks off March 12th at 11am from Labrador City, NL.  Teams of 2 riders and their sleds leave the start line in 2 minute intervals.  They will make up the time differential at the first checkpoint after which they will all be travelling on equal time.  They will race day and night through 18 checkpoints including 9 remote checkpoints and 9 communities.  Specifically, the route will take them through Labrador City, Churchill Falls, Happy Valley – Goose Bay, Rigolet, Makkovik, Postville, Hopedale, Natuashish and Nain.  The race is anticipated to last 5 - 6 days with the included mandatory layover times.  Teams will be required to take 30 hours of layover time in total.  Eight hours will have to be taken before leaving Happy Valley Goose Bay, 12 hours must be taken before leaving Nain and 10 must be taken before leaving Churchill Falls.  There are some options for racers to select a location for them to do part of their layover time, opening up an opportunity for tactical moves out along the race course.

Being the longest race of its kind in Canada and arguably the toughest worldwide, Cain’s Quest is taking care of business when it comes to safety.  With the help of the Canadian Rangers and the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary, Cain’s Quest will have medically trained teams strategically placed along the route to provide the best response time and expert care when needed.  Although teams can often feel alone out there, they can take comfort in knowing that the world has all eyes glued on them on  Thanks to Globalstar and, each team is equipped with a satellite tracking unit which show teams positioning along the route in near real time.  In the event of an emergency, teams are also carrying a panic button that when activated, will send out exact coordinates of their location and a chopper will be dispatched immediately.  Teams are carrying Sat phones and mandatory survival gear in case a situation arises. In terms of safety, they are well .

Cain’s Quest is a high profile event attracting media attention across the globe.  Featured in a 30 minute segment on Snowmobiler Television, audiences can catch all the action from the comfort of their own homes.  News crews and radio personalities are front and center to bring listeners all the heart-pounding action live from the start line.  Cain’s Quest has been profiled in major snowmobile magazines such as On Snow Magazine, Snow Goer, Supertrax, American Snowmobiler, Down Home Life and Sledworthy. The first female team to sign up for the main event is sure to attract major media attention and would be a great opportunity for them to showcase their sponsors.  Organizers are still hopeful that there is a team of women out there who are not afraid to step up to the plate and test their limits in the Cain’s Quest Challenge.

For information on registration or how to become a corporate sponsor contact Race Coordinator Jackie Greenham at (709) 944-5011 or by e-mail at  Follow your favourite team via satellite online during the race from March 12 – 19 at