We are capped at 12 racers this year, so the roster is now full. All additional racers will be placed on a wait list and will be offered a spot if it becomes available. Also, great news for Churchill... the first train in 17 months rolled in on Oct. 31. It’s a huge relief for the community and will help to make the 2019 HBQ possible!
The 2019 Hudson Bay Quest dogsled race will be reinstated next March riding, literally albeit hopefully, of the Hudson Bay Railroad. The vital lifeline that links Churchill and Gillam needs to be up and running in order to pull off the logistical operations for the race. Crucial supplies, officials as well as dog teams and emergency workers shuttle between the two towns and drops at checkpoints occur as well.
Registration, which opens November 01 at 12:00:01 (noon) CST, will be capped at 12 racers this year. The rail line between Gillam and Churchill is essential for moving race officials, supplies and dropped dogs/scratched teams. The rail is anticipated to be operational in time for our March 15, 2019 start date in Gillam, MB.
To register or for HBQ information, the official website will be updated soon at www.hbqrace.com.
Dave Daley leaving the start in Churchill. Nace Hageman photo.
Justin Allen from Churchill tears out of the gate in the Hudson Bay Quest. Drew Hamilton photo.
Dave Daley’s dogs raring to go at the Hudson Bay Quest start line. Ales De Vries – Magnifico photo.
Ryan Anderson wins the 2016 Hudson Bay Quest. HBQ photo.
Dave Daley leaving the start in Churchill. Nace Hageman photo.
For a second consecutive year the Hudson Bay Quest dog sled race, that runs from Churchill to Gillam every March, has been canceled. The ongoing saga of a washed out train line, known as the Hudson Bay Line, after runoff from two late-season blizzards in 2017 has again wreaked havoc on the region’s lifestyle. Without the train line to transport dogs and supplies for mushers, the expenses would be too steep for those wanting to compete.
“Normally what would happen was we would have our sponsors bring the mushers’ dog teams either to Churchill or from Churchill, depending on which direction the race was going,” said Bill Dingwall, Hudson Bay Quest committee chair.
“But this year, without the train, we couldn’t guarantee that the teams would either be able to get to the start or the finish, or home from the finish.”
The alternative would be returning by land with the dog teams after the race finishes and the cost for most mushers would be prohibitive
“That was quite a daunting task for a lot of the mushers and it would have cost them a lot more money,” said Dingwell.
“Once we put out that you’d be on your own to get to the start and home after the finish, I think it was an easy decision for a lot of the guys.”
Last year the Quest was canceled as well by one of the severe blizzards that buried the open tundra and made the trail too treacherous to run the dog teams.
“We were very disappointed last year because it was such a last minute decision to cancel,” he said. “This year we knew going in not having a rail line was going to be extremely hard to do with logistics of moving mushers, moving handlers, moving even our race marshal, our vets, and everybody … It wasn’t safe to do it, honestly.”
The Hudson Bay Quest is well known among the heartiest mushers as one of the most challenging races in North America. it annually draws mushers from all over the world and some use it as a stepping stone to bigger races such as the Iditarod and the Yukon Quest. On a smaller scale, mushers are self – sufficient out on the land just like those races.
“It’s not as long [as others] but it’s a hard race … It’s so hard that if you finish the race, you get your registration money back. Doesn’t matter when you finish, we have a timeline, but if you finish we give your registration money back just because it’s that much of an accomplishment, we feel.”
In a “normal year”, which in the north such a phrase carries a completely different meaning, the Quest will draw from 12 – 16 mushers and dog teams. This year only four had entered this far and three of those opted to defer their registration fees to next years event with the hope that the train line will be repaired and the region will be back in business. A decision to only proceed this year if a minimum of six racers entered was made early on. With the deadline to enter looming race organizers officially pulled the plug on this one.
The race has been an iconic event for the region for a long time and once the rail line is repaired it will happen again. Churchill, in particular, has suffered extensively from the lack of train service. The polar bear season was a needed boost to the morale and economy of the town but a long-term solution is needed. Town officials expect news soon on the transfer of the port and accompanying rail line and the future of the Hudson Bay Quest. Stay posted to our site for upcoming news on the ongoing drama in the north!
Hudson Bay Quest musher off at the start. This year’s Quest is cancelled as a result of the recent blizzard! Brad Josephs photo.
Race organizers have made the decision to cancel the 2017 Hudson Bay Quest dogsled race due to the recent blizzard that buried the Churchill and Gillam regions this past week. The race was scheduled to depart Gillam this Friday, St. Patrick’s Day, and finish in Churchill.
Unsafe conditions are the main reasons for deciding to scrap the race this year as deep packed and drifting snow have blanketed the course and inhibited train service from Thompson to Churchill while track sections are being cleared. The train transports supplies as well as mushers and their dog teams to the race and serves as a lifeline to the south.
Just recently the Town of Churchill declared a State of Emergency, allocating resources toward snow removal and dealing with the aftermath of a storm that necessitated the Churchill community businesses to shut down for three full days last week. The race will be missed for sure, however the safety of the mushing teams and all support staff out on the trail between Gillam and Churchill is of prime importance.
Here is the official statement from the HBQ organizing committee: “While many sled dog races have cancelled due to lack of snow, we have wiped the smug looks off our faces now that we ultimately have too much snow. The Organizing Committee for the 2017 HBQ wishes everyone a safe and productive year as we navigate through this experience, and begin our planning for the 2018 Hudson Bay Quest.”
We look forward to the 2018 Hudson Bay Quest, back even stronger than before!
Two awesome shots by Alex De Vries Magnifico from Churchill. The Hudson Bay Quest photo made the cover of Manitoba Tourism visitor guide. The image of Dave Daley, a race organizer and competitor, captures the essence of the race start. Sled dogs are born to run and these dogs are roaring to go.
The other shot of the Northern Pike coming through the ice hole is a fantastic view of fishing this time of year in the north! You can almost feel the grip of winter relinquishing its grip and acquiescing to the coming thaw of spring. Both depictions are truly northern sub -Arctic in their feel.
Start of the Hudson Bay Quest. Alex De Vries Magnifico photo.
Ice fishing in the north. Alex De Vries Magnifico photo.