The fifth day of racing was a steady one for Cain’s Quest Racers and volunteers. With teams departing Nain for their south-bound trip and some just beginning their 12-hour layover there, the checkpoints were open for longer than anticipated, anxiously awaiting the back-runners: Team #82, Brudder I’m Stuck and Team #6, CSR Racing.
Today’s race plans introduced for the first, and only time this race, a flexible layover option. Race teams were given the option to take eight hours of layover time at any community checkpoint of their choosing between checkpoint # 7, Hopedale, and checkpoint #12, Cartwright. Race teams are required to declare the layover period taken at each checkpoint upon check-in, to be served in 2 hour increments.
While it was difficult to determine the leaderboard as this was occurring, it was interesting to watch the strategy of each team and how they split, or didn’t split, their eight hours. Five teams decided to ride straight through to Cartwright and take their full eight hours there (teams 22, 24, 87, 88 and 99), while others took their eight hours earlier in the race course, to maximize daylight racing time. Teams 6, 8, 17, 30, and 55 did just that, while we saw other teams spread the eight hours over a number of checkpoints.
Cain’s Quest has 12 reported scratches with the front runners nearly two thirds complete; two medical, but not serious, and nine mechanical. With a widening gap, we will be anxiously watching the back runners of this race to see if the gap will be too large to continue.
Much focus has been on the three front running teams; Team #22, Maine, Team #59, Nain and Team #4, Where’s Bow Cycle, however Team #20 has stealthily crept up to the leaderboard, making better time than the three front runners…by almost 60 minutes!
But let’s not forget that anything can happen in this race. The leaders currently have just a three to four-hour lead over the majority of racers in the middle of the pack. The next leg of the race- the south coast, could see local racers from teams 33, Northern Peninsula Racing, 85, Mary’s Harbour Backcountry Riders, and Labrador South Racing, gain a significant advantage.
With limited snow on the south coast and milder temperatures, we will be watching the conditions as racers travel through this challenging portion of the race. All teams continue to be treated to race fans at all hours of the day, school children with welcome signs and hot meals to warm them up.
All teams will serve a mandatory 10-hour layover, split between neighbouring communities- Port Hope Simpson (checkpoint # 12) and Mary’s Harbour (checkpoint #13), before heading to L’Anse au Loup on the southern portion of Labrador. They will return through the deep snow of the Mealy Mountains in Central Labrador and serve their final 12-hour layover before heading back west for the finish.
Racers are expecting to finish in Labrador West on Thursday, March 11th….how many will cross the finish line? Time will tell.
For more information on Cain’s Quest, visit cainsquest.com. Follow us on Twitter @cainsquest, use #cq2016 or join the conversation on our Cain’s Quest Facebook page.
Cain’s Quest is the world’s toughest and longest snowmobile endurance race. It is an incredible off-trail riding adventure where teams of two battle in an all-out race through 3,500 kilometres of deep snow and thick wooded areas in some of the most remote parts of Labrador. The race is managed by Cain’s Quest Inc., a volunteer-run, non-profit organization.