For the first time, a married couple is entering the Cain's Quest snowmobile endurance race.
Labrador residents Coreen and Jason Paul have registered as the appropriately titled "Better half racing Team 39" to face one of the most brutal snowmobile challenges in all of the country and perhaps putting their marriage vows to the ultimate test.
The Pauls will be among the pack of competitors heading out on March 17 into the approximately 2500-kilometer trek across the big land.
Racers will have to be prepared to face the unpredictable nature of the territory and work together to answer to challenges as they arise.
Working together is something that Ms. Paul says is normally experienced throughout a marriage and will be added bonus to the team.
"We work really well together. When you get into a tough situation whether you're stuck on a snowmobile or you're having mechanical issues, to be able to work together and think it through is a big help. Having people that get along and work well together is very important."
The couple, who live in Labrador City with their two children, have been busily preparing for the big race day.
However, they are not coming into the challenge as complete amateurs.
They say that it was their shared interest and experience in the outdoor life that brought them together, not only for this race but as partners in life.
Coreen, who is originally from North West River, says that growing up in Labrador and being involved in community groups exposed her to facing challenges out on the land.
"I've been a member with the Canadian rangers for nearly 12 years now, we do a lot of map, compass and GPS tracking, being outdoors and going on snowmobile trips."
She says that as a child she had learned a lot about the land from her family as well.
"My Dad was a hunter and trapper so I spent a lot of time outdoors and in the woods with him."
She noted that her wilderness and tracking skills would be put to good use throughout the endurance race.
Coreen's husband and teammate, Jason, who is from Labrador West, also brings his love of the outdoors and navigational expertise from being involved in Army Cadets as a teenager.
Mr. Paul also had competed in the 2009 Cain's Quest challenge where Ms. Paul provided ground support to her husband.
Ms. Paul says that while she has spent a lot of time on snowmobile, she has never traveled as extensively as the distance outlined in Cain's Quest. To prepare, the couple has been doing a lot of practice runs over the past couple of months.
"You try to prepare your body physically and you try to prepare yourself mentally by thinking things through and planning and being on top of your game as much as possible."
She says those qualities will be key for her and her husband as they embark on the snowmobile journey.
"You got to set your own pace, sometimes you do it to try to keep up with the crowd but at the same time it's what your body can handle and what your snowmobile can handle too."
The pair have also managed to take time from their busy work schedules to get physically in shape for the long journey on their snowmobiles, following a cardio and strength training routine.
While the caliber and unpredictability of the race will be a challenge in itself, Ms. Paul says that all of their hard work, fundraising efforts along with the reward of crossing the finish line with her husband, will be all worth it.
"In years past, you have somewhere around 30 teams in the race and not everybody finishes, so being able to finish this type of race is a very big goal for us. If we could hit the top five I would be so excited."
It takes a real toll on your mind and I can imagine it's going to do the same thing to my family. I feel for them, I know what it's like but I told myself I was never going to sit home and watch Cain's Quest because it is hard on the mind, so now I am going to put myself to the challenge. - Coreen Paul
This year, the couple's friends and family will provide assistance on the ground to "Better Half Racing" team.
While this will be Coreen's first time actually competing in Cain's Quest, in 2009 she provided the ground support to her husband who partnered with a friend. She said she was on the edge of her seat the whole time.
She told the Labradorian that waiting to hear word from her husband's progress was at times stressful, but she decided that this year she wanted to be a part of the challenge and action.
"It takes a real toll on your mind and I can imagine it's going to do the same thing to my family. I feel for them, I know what it's like but I told myself I was never again going to sit home and watch Cain's Quest because it is hard on the mind, so now I am going to put myself to the challenge."
The Annual Cain's Quest snowmobile endurance race experienced minor technical difficulties last year due to the poor ice and snow conditions throughout Labrador. The event went ahead but checkpoints were diverted in communities in the Quebec province.
This season the snow is indeed plentiful throughout Labrador and the crisp temperatures offer safer ice conditions for the team participants. Over 30 teams have signed on to be a part of the unique snowmobile race from as far as Maine USA.
You can follow the Pauls progress at www.betterhalfracing.webs.com