For anyone how travels to Churchill, Manitoba on March 21, 2009, the sound of dogs barking will be unmistakable. The Hudson Bay Quest is a 400 km self-sufficient dog sled race running from Churchill to Arviat, Nunavut along historic lines used by the Hudson Bay Company. The typical four-day event is an exciting celebration of the history of dog mushing and Canadian culture.
Created by the owner of Wapusk Adventure owner Dave Daley and a group of fellow mushers, the race was intended on growing the sport of traditional dog sledding. Now in its sixth year, it is one of the most popular events in the area. Approximately 20 teams take off on the morning of the first day and endure extreme cold, winds, polar bears, and the wild to make it to the other end.
The skill and endurance needed for this race is nothing short of absolutely amazing. Miriam Korner, fellow Saskatchewan freelance writer and photographer, is the only female to enter the race and was able to sum up the race perfectly. When asked what her goals for the race were, she replied “Don’t get wet, don’t get lost, don’t get eaten by polar bears, and finish the race with happy dogs.” For a native of Germany, her fifth place finish is nothing short of an unbelievable feat. For more stories of life out on the trail, read the interesting anecdote at the bottom of her interview with Sleddogcentral.com. It’s one of those ‘that was too close’ moments that I’m sure brought on a few other words!
The entire event finishes off with a fantastic banquet and awards ceremony for various categories including the best lead dog and the unofficial ‘Best Snotsicle Award,’ which according to their website was 2.53 inches for anyone interested. To put that in perspective, I was once told that spit freezes in mid air at minus 50. I have no idea how cold it has to be for a snotcicle, but I could just about imagine what it would take to form an amazing natural phenomenon such as that.
The race itself is not for the faint hearted. Many of the mushers and teams simply can’t take the extreme conditions and grueling pace the race requires (and there is no way most could, be it 2-legged or 4!). It is not without its tragedies either. The participants all learn a lot about the art of mushing and survival while making life-long friendships with those who share their passion. For spectators, however, it is an unforgettable, nail-biting event.
(This post can now be found here: http://www.traveltheprairies.com/manitoba/churchill-manitoba-hudson-bay-quest/)