Charlie Roderick, left, and Lance Whitehouse are shown in Sidney. The two men recently set a course record in a 1,000 Mile Challenge snowmobile charity event in Canada. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

An overnight joint snowmobiling excursion earlier this month was a smashing success for Charlie Roderick and Lance Whitehouse — such a success, in fact, that the two were offered an encore.

As they were returning to Maine after competing in the 1,000-Mile Challenge, a race to complete 1,000 miles of snowmobiling across New Brunswick, Roderick and Whitehouse received an email from event organizers. They were wanted back in the province to be recognized for a record-breaking performance on the trails.

“We heard from them, and they were dying for us to come back there and speak at the closing ceremony,” said Whitehouse, 39, of Sidney. “Charlie was kind of under the weather and at his age (63) wasn’t feeling up to traveling back up, but it was a great gesture. We had a fun ride up there.”

The duo certainly did, winning the 15-team competition in 21 hours, 47 minutes. The time was the fastest in the four-year history of the event, which raises money to fund local summer camps. 

The event features two snowmobilers on a team, which embarks on a journey across New Brunswick trails. The objective? To complete 1,000 miles in 24 hours. This year, organizers lifted the 24-hour rule and opened up the event for up for seven days.

Friends from the construction business, Whitehouse and Roderick, of Norridgewock, have been snowmobiling together for roughly 12 years. They decided in December to take up the competition, which riders have seven days to complete — a reasonable goal, Roderick said, considering their history.


Charlie Roderick, left, and Lance Whitehouse are shown in Sidney. The two men recently set a course record in a 1,000 Mile Challenge snowmobile charity event in Canada. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

“He and I had done 350 (miles) a day together over five days last year for 1,650 and came home, so doing the challenge meant nothing to me because it was 1,000 in a week,” Roderick said. “Don’t get me wrong, 350 miles a day on a snowmobile is quite a challenge, but we’d done it before.”

That pace of 350 miles per day was the going rate Roderick and Whitehouse anticipated for the competition. That would get them to 1,000 miles in three days, and they packed their luggage and planned their trip for just that.

Pretty soon, though, both riders knew they were in position to achieve a loftier goal. With no defined course for the competition — competitors were free to ride anywhere with trackers attached to their snowmobiles logging the mileage — they found an optimal stretch of snow to register miles quickly.

“We got to a point where it turned into gravel, and I turned to Lance and said, ‘This ain’t working out, but we just went 100 miles in 85 minutes two minutes ago,’” Roderick said. “So, we just turned around, kept going back and forth on that (stretch of snow) and just kept going all night.”

It proved to be an excellent decision for the duo, which set out at approximately 1 p.m. March 3. Gassing up every 2 1/2 hours or so at Rogers Lake Lodge (25 miles from Bathurst) and Serpentine Lodge (40 miles southwest of Rogers Lake), they finished just before 9 a.m. on March 4.

Stickers for the 1,000 Mile Challenge and sponsors are seen on Lance Whitehouse’s snowmobile Tuesday in Sidney. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

Whitehouse rode on his new 2024 Skidoo XRS 900 Turbo, while Roderick rode on his 2022 Yamaha Viper. Although they primarily rode on the aforementioned snowy trail, there were still parts of the journey that saw low snow conditions that treated the two snowmobiles differently.

“My sled fared fairly well in the event; we didn’t really wear it out, even with the low snow conditions in those spots,” Whitehouse said. “I think Charlie’s sled definitely took a beating, and it wore everything out, but he made it.”

And who refueled the duo on the Rogers Lake Lodge leg of the trip? Rudi Fowler, the event’s founder and previous record holder. When they would meet, the three would exchange friendly jabs as Roderick and Whitehouse got closer and closer to setting the new mark.

“He’d be there pumping our gas, and we’d chat for a little bit,” Roderick said. “He was hoping we wouldn’t break the record, but we did. It was all good fun.”

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