There’s less than a year to go before Cain’s Quest 2020 and teams are getting ready. One of those teams is hoping to do something that’s never been done in the history of the snowmobile endurance race: have an all female team.
Coreen Paul and Rebecca Charles are the duo hoping to make history by being the first female team. Paul has competed in Cain’s Quest before with her husband and was the first woman to finish the race but this time wanted to do something different.
“The goal is always to finish,” Paul said. “It’s a personal challenge for me, to push myself to my limits.”
Paul said the reason she believes women haven’t shown as much of an interest in the event is that it can be intimidating.
“It’s been masculine based all along,” she said. “I wanted to do it right from the first race. Snowmobiling is not only a male activity anymore, a lot of females are into it. With Cain’s Quest, it is huge, it is long and it’s very demanding on the body and I think women feel intimidated by it.”
She said for her, pushing her body and mind is a huge adrenaline rush and spurs on her natural competitive edge.
Paul, originally from North West River, is living in New Brunswick and Charles lives in Alaska. Paul said growing up in North West River gave her a love of snowmobiles that never went away.
“It was how you got everywhere,” she said. “We grew up on snowmobiles day in and day out. It’s a mode of transportation to get to school, to the store; it was how you got to your cabin. It was how you went hunting, fishing, trapping, gathering food and supplies. We lived on snowmobiles all of our lives.”
The pair were connected by a mutual friend and it went from there.
“We started talking, on the phone and on FaceTime and we just clicked,” Paul said. “We knew right away we were going to do this. I’m pretty excited to work with her.”
Charles has been competing in a snowmobile endurance race in Alaska for a few years now, the Iron Dog, but said she’s excited to get to this side of the continent and try something different.
“I’ve always been interested in it since I found out about it,” she told the Labradorian. “Cain’s Quest is interesting for me because there’s the GPS aspect, the survival aspect, that I really like.”
Charles first ran the Iron Dog in 2014 and has been doing it since. She races in the non-competitive 1,000 mile Trail Class so she said there are some big differences, such as Iron Dog has a set route that doesn’t change and there isn’t as much distance between the checkpoints.
“I believe I’m the first person to come down from Alaska and do Cain’s Quest so I’m hoping I’ll be able to bring what I learned in Iron Dog and bring it down there and bring back what I’ve learned in Cain’s Quest to Alaska.”
While they won’t have the advantage of being able to run the route in advance, as many Labrador based teams do, they are planning to meet a few times in person before the event in New Brunswick and Alaska to do some practice runs. They’re hoping to get Paul up to run the Iron Dog in February next year to get used to each other’s riding style.
Charles said the goal in the 2020 race is to be the first all female team to start and finish but beyond that they’ll be racing to win.