Cain’s Quest one-of-a-kind ex­pe­ri­ence for Blake­town man

Dane Phillips re­counts epic five-day ride through Labrador

The Compass - - Front page - BY AN­DREW ROBIN­SON

COR­NER BROOK, NL — It was an ex­pe­ri­ence un­like any other, rid­ing along­side a buddy for hun­dreds of kilo­me­tres each day and nav­i­gat­ing an un­fa­mil­iar ter­rain.

“We’ve done some ad­ven­tures where we never used a GPS (Global Po­si­tion­ing Sys­tem) and just went into the coun­try and tried to find our way around, but this was a to­tally dif­fer­ent ad­ven­ture,” Dane Phillips re­cently told the Com­pass, shortly af­ter re­turn­ing home from com­pet­ing in Cain’s Quest.

Phillips, who is from Blake­town and now calls Cor­ner Brook home, be­came heav­ily in­volved in snow­mo­bil­ing lit­tle over a decade ago. He be­came fa­mil­iar with Cain’s Quest a few years later and main­tained an ad­mi­ra­tion for the event from afar.

The win­ter event cov­ers a lot of ground — ap­prox­i­mately 3,200 kilo­me­tres in all. Rac­ers com­plete a full loop of Labrador, touch­ing 19 check­points spread through­out New­found­land’s north­ern neigh­bour.

Phillips and another friend talked about do­ing the race for a long time, but it was his brother-in-law, Dustin Boyd, who helped make the dream be­come a re­al­ity. They formed the team Best Kind Rac­ing, at­tracted some spon­sors for their ve­hi­cles and pre­pared for the jour­ney to Labrador.

“It was a night­mare,” he said of the at­tempt to get the snow­mo­biles to Labrador. They left Cor­ner Brook four days early, an­tic­i­pat­ing that would give the pair plenty of time to get to the start­ing point in Labrador City. How­ever, they were forced to wait a fur­ther three days for the ferry to leave St. Barbe.

For­tu­nately, Phillips had a friend in the com­mu­nity who let them use his garage to work on prep­ping their snow­mo­biles for the event, so their time was not wasted en­tirely. Boyd and Phillips ar­rived in Labrador City just in time for racer reg­is­tra­tion Feb. 27.

The event it­self was a real eye opener for the pair. Phillips said nei­ther of them re­al­ized how much rac­ers rely on a sup­port team through­out the event.

“We kind of went solo,” he said, adding this hin­dered their rac­ing ef­forts a lit­tle bit.

“But the to­tal ex­pe­ri­ence, what Cain’s Quest is all about, is bring­ing peo­ple to­gether and bring­ing peo­ple to where you would never go be­fore. We’ve seen stuff peo­ple in Labrador have prob­a­bly never seen.”

Go­ing north from Churchill Falls, Cain’s Quest com­peti­tors passed Sail Lake and Bor­der Bea­con check­points be­fore reach­ing the first of sev­eral indige­nous com­mu­ni­ties in coastal Labrador, Nain.

“We got to meet a lot of amaz­ing peo­ple on the coast of Labrador,” Phillips said. “From Nain right down to Char­lot­te­town … They’re great, great peo­ple. Young kids out all hours of the night wait­ing for teams to come in and cheer­ing you on like you’re rock stars.”

There were tough times over the course of five days of rac­ing. As Phillips grew tired, the ex­pe­ri­ence be­came mind numb­ing. But nei­ther he nor Boyd would give up.

“You’re emo­tion­ally, phys­i­cally and men­tally drained try­ing to think about how you’re go­ing to get out of a sit­u­a­tion,” he said. “We went down a cou­ple of wrong trails. We didn’t know how to get out of it, and we man­aged to come to­gether as a team and we over­came some chal­lenges

in that re­spect.”

The snow­mo­biles per­formed well on the lengthy jour­ney, and when the two men reached the fin­ish line back in Labrador City, Boyd and Phillips were re­lieved.

“It was a bit emo­tional cross­ing the fin­ish line,” said Phillips. “Peo­ple wait­ing there and cheer­ing you on.”

Asked if he’d do it all again some­day, Phillips said he would. The ex­pe­ri­ence over­all was very pos­i­tive, and he found the other rac­ers to be a great bunch to hang out and chat with.

“I can see my­self do­ing it again, yes. I’d prob­a­bly be more pre­pared and I’d ask a few more ques­tion to (ex­pe­ri­enced) rac­ers. We didn’t know what to ex­pect when we went in, and we gave it our all.”

PHOTO BY TIM COLLINS

Dustin Boyd, left, and Dane Phillips.

PHOTO BY TYLER MUGFORD

Dane Phillips com­peted in the Cain’s Quest snow­mo­bile race for the first time this year.

PHOTO BY TYLER MUGFORD

Dustin Boyd, left, and Dane Phillips were the duo be­hind Team 14 at Cain’s Quest, oth­er­wise known as Best Kind Rac­ing.

PHOTO BY TYLER MUGFORD

Dane Phillips, right, told The Com­pass he could see him­self par­tic­i­pat­ing in Cain’s Quest again.

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