The heart of Cain’s Quest

Volunteers help make snowmobile race a growing success

Published on March 14, 2016

After 10 years, Cavell and Ned Burke are still happy to continue volunteering their time for Cain’s Quest.

© Photos by Ty Dunham/The Aurora

A man hangs up the phone inside the Cain’s Quest headquarters.

“It says here they’re close to Makkovik,” he tells a woman.
“They might be taking the same route like everyone else did,” she replies, pointing to a map of Labrador. “They went towards Makkovik and then over to Postville. He’s probably following  the same trails the boys did.”
The man seems satisfied.
“So that’s where they’re at, then.”
The behind-the-scenes action isn’t quite as high octane as the riders on the front line of the race, but it’s enough to bring Ed and Cavell Burke back over and over again for the past 10 years.
Perhaps the lack of excitement in the long trailer is a testament to how smoothly oiled a machine Cain’s Quest has grown into.

“There seems to be less troubles with machines and riders,” he says. “It seems people are more adjusted to it and know what to expect, and are preparing themselves and their machines for it.”
Every year the Burkes start on Fan Night, where they sold popcorn and t-shirts this year, then to the start of the race, followed by six-hour shifts for the week.
They each sit in front of a computer, one with a map of the race route and the other with a list of names, numbers and times. Calling other check stops, they confirm when teams arrive and depart, noting their times on a spreadsheet on the wall.
Other volunteers drop in and out throughout the day, helping themselves to a spread of food and some conversations on the race.
It’s brought a lot of new handshakes to the Burkes, and that’s what it’s all about, Cavell said.
“You meet a lot of people; every year is something different.”
Cain’s Quest 2016 is the longest route yet, and the biggest undertaking by the race officials. Across the globe snowmobile enthusiast are tuning in to the live tracking online. And at each checkpoint racers hop off their sleds to the warm greetings of volunteers congratulating them on their progress.
It’s a taste of Labrador pride from Labradorians just like the Burkes, and it’s part of what makes Cain’s Quest a growing success.