Charlie Lundie from Churchill has won the 2011 Hudson Bay Quest…the first time a musher from this town has done so. Lundie crossed the finish line in Churchill at 6:06 pm, March 19th with a time of 30 hours and six minutes..just two minutes ahead of second place finisher Peter McClelland of Ely, Minnesota. This year’s race originated in Gillam, Manitoba for the first time in the race’s history.
When one familiar with the world of sled-dog racing hears or sees the word “quest”, one instantly thinks “Yukon Quest”..one of the most challenging, well-known races in the world. However there is another “quest”,… a bit smaller, but never-the-less quite formidable that takes place every March placing the small coastal village of Churchill, Manitoba in the spotlight around mushing circles.
The Hudson Bay Quest began in 2004 and continued until this year with an alternating route between Churchill and Arviat, Nunavut along the coastal barren lands connecting the two. Wildly unpredictable weather made this 200 mile journey comparable to even greater challenges such as stretches of the Iditarod and aforementioned Yukon Quest…the perennial harbingers of sled-dog races. In fact the Hudson Bay Quest has now been recognized as a qualifier for both races.
The race committee decided to reroute the race this year due to safety and logistical obstacles caused by the arctic weather hazards encountered out along the sea ice of Hudson Bay. Instead of alternating years between Churchill and Arviat in Nunavut territory to the North, the race will now run from Gillam ,in the south,to Churchill each year. The route intersects with the Hudson Bay rail -line at the midway point making provision drops and race logistics less strenuous. In recent races on the old route, mushers have been lead off-trail in blinding whiteouts and snowstorms by their dog teams to the point where their lives as well as the dogs lives have been in grave danger…is there any other kind? Canadian Rangers have been on hand each year in force to help facilitate the mushers safety on and off the trail though some conditions have also placed their safety at risk. The new route will allow the emphasis to be placed back on “mushing” for mushing sake and not on the diabolical weather patterns.
For more detailed information on the Hudson Bay Quest click here.
Part 1 of 2.