Tim Lessard is pretty sure why he has done the Cain’s Quest Snowmobile Endurance Race three times in four years.

“Stupidity,” he joked.

This year’s Cain’s Quest covered about 1,800 miles, with racing day and night throughout Labrador in Newfoundland, Canada. Lessard lives in Monmouth, and raced with Eric Hall, who lives in Dennistown, just north of Jackman. The duo finished second in the race, which was run over several days and ended late last week.

Lessard and Hall won the Cain’s Quest in 2009, the first one for either of them. There was no race in 2010, because of the unseasonably warm weather, but they’ve been back at it the last two years.

“It kind of gets addicting,” Lessard said. “The fun part for me is the mechanical part of trying to get the sled ready, making one strong enough to take the punishment. I’m a mechanical engineer, so I like that stuff anyway.”

Lessard isn’t kidding when he says the snowmobile takes some punishment. Hall said there were times during the race where the course was pure rock with no snow.

“You gotta go easy, that’s for sure,” Hall said. “We were joking, ‘You’re better off with a 4-wheeler at times.’

“We went from 5 feet of powder snow, to melting snow, to hardly any snow. The finish was 10-20 miles of water and slush.”

Getting the snowmobile ready takes several hundred hours over a period of three or four months, Lessard estimates. The pair raced a Ski-Doo model the last two times, but went with an Arctic Cat this time around. Lessard said it was much faster in the woods, but slower on the lakes.

“The rear suspension isn’t really designed to do what we were trying to do with it,” Lessard said. “We took a big gamble, racing a new sled for us.”

Winners Jean-Guy Aucoin and Steve Girard took home $1,000 and each got a brand new Arctic Cat snowmobile. Hall and Lessard split $12,000.

The checkpoints on the course are announced ahead of time, and Lessard said Aucoin and Girard traversed the course ahead of time and mentioned that on Facebook. A few other teams did the same thing, and word got around, so instead of relying solely on a GPS for navigation, the teams were playing follow the leader.

“Since everyone knew those teams knew where to go, those teams set a pretty fast pace,” Lessard said.

Hall said the second-place finish was a satisfying one, especially considering they didn’t have the benefit of previewing the course.

“I personally feel like finishing the race is a huge accomplishment for anybody,” Hall said. “Coming in second behind a really good team, we feel really good about it.”

After — and even sometimes during — his first Cain’s Quest, Lessard was confident he wouldn’t do it again. But this time, both he and Hall say they’re taking at least next year off.

“The preparation to go do this race consumes your whole winter, between trying to raise money and working on the sled,” Hall said. “It’s really a stressful event, not only doing the race, but getting ready for it.”

Lessard is 42, and he’d like to eventually do the Cain’s Quest with his son, Remington, who is 13.

“He can do it when he’s 18,” Lessard said. “He’s a big snowmobiler.”

Matt DiFilippo — 861-9243

[email protected]

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