Cree racing team impresses at Cain’s Quest endurance race

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Two brothers from Eeyou Istchee made history last month as the first Cree competitors to take part in Cain’s Quest, the world’s toughest and longest snowmobile endurance race. Starting and finishing biennially in Labrador City, Cain’s Quest takes participants on a five-day trek across 3200 kilometres of Labrador’s toughest terrain, making it a race only for the most fearless of snowmobile riders.

The daunting nature of Cain’s Quest was a big part of the appeal for Team Salt, which is made up of brothers Dylan and Glen Salt of Chisasibi.

The brothers established Team Salt in 2016, and have been fixtures on the Eeyou Istchee snowmobile racing circuit ever since. This year’s early races served as valuable preparation for the Salt brothers’ Labrador adventure.

While Team Salt failed to reach the podium, they didn’t disappoint in the first running of the Chisasibi Snowmobile Challenge in mid-February, finishing fourth in a field of 15 with a combined time of 28:21:06 to take home a $5000 prize.

The Salt brothers also enjoyed considerable support from both family and the Cree community ahead of their trip to Labrador City. Numerous raffles were held in support of Dylan and Glen’s costly investment in their Cain’s Quest dream, while additional unsolicited donations further helped get the brothers on the road.

However, offers of support were not limited to family and friends. An impressive 7:59:17 run in the final day of racing in Chisasibi in February sealed a second-place finish for Team Skyhawks, earning drivers Brian Rupert, Sean Langer and William Chakapash a $20,000 cash prize.

Aware of Team Salt’s plans, and impressed with their performance in Chisasibi, the Skyhawks contributed $2000 of their prize money to Team Salt’s Cain’s Quest fund.

A record 41 two-man teams left the starting line in Labrador City at this year’s edition of Cain’s Quest, but just 17 managed to reach the finish line, including Team Salt, in 16th place.

Closer to home, the Eeyou Istchee competitive snowmobile season continued in earnest last month, with part two of the Chisasibi Cross Country Snowmobile Challenge, followed by the Oujé-Bougoumou Snowmobile Challenge on the final weekend of March.

Mistissini’s Patrick Coon proved to be a model of consistency in the Men’s Sport category at this year’s two-day cross-country event in Chisasibi, following up a 3:13:31 run on Day One with a 3:13:27 performance on Day Two to eke out a narrow four-minute victory over second-place Jimmy-James Neeposh.

Jeremiah Capissisit of Oujé-Bougoumou led all competitors in the Men’s Open category in Chisasibi, powering to a combined two-day time of 7:17:30, over 26 minutes ahead of second-place finisher Kenny Gunner of Mistissini, while Danny Gunner rounded out the podium with a time of 8:06:17.

Capassisit continued his torrid pace at the Oujé-Bougoumou Snowmobile Challenge, completing the Pro Open race in 5:49:56, but that was not good enough to stop Chibougamau’s Silas Neeposh, who took the checkered flag in an impressive 5:43:27.

The Men’s Pro Open was marred by a serious accident on the final day of the event, when Sebastian Neeposh of Misstisini lost control of his sled while leading the race, causing a collision with rival rider Elijah Matoush.

According to Cree Impact Media, which provides extensive coverage of the Eeyou Istchee snowmobile racing circuit on their Facebook page, Neeposh was rushed to the Montreal General Hospital, where he underwent surgery on a badly broken femur. He is reportedly on the mend, in good spirits, and eager to get back on the trails next season.

A late addition to this year’s race schedule will see the 2018 snowmobile season close on the weekend of April 7-8 with cross-country snowmobile action in Waswanipi. With the event being put together on short notice, the Men’s Pro and Men’s Sport categories will feature smaller fields of competitors. However, both Neeposh and Capissisit are expected to participate.


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