Hudson Bay Quest is an annual 400km dog sled race along the Hudson Bay linking Churchill, Manitoba with Arviat, Nunavut. The dog sled teams recreate the historic fur trade run between the two communities. The race honours the history of three Aboriginal groups, the Cree, the Inuit and the Dene, and their role in the fur trade that started in the area in the 1700's. This competitive event features both traditional Inuit mushers as well as modern-day equipped racers from across Canada and the U.S. The race is designed as a self-sufficient dog sledding adventure, where racers carry their own supplies, gear and dog food throughout the three or fours days it takes to complete the course.
Since the inaugural race in 2004, Hudson Bay Quest has gained international status and is now an official qualifying race for the Yukon Quest Sled Dog Race and the Iditarod Great Sled Race.
Hudson Bay Quest has received international recognition as journalists from Germany, the United Kingdom and New Zealand have written about the event.
There were several challenges that Dave Daley, the founder of the Hudson Bay Quest, had to consider in organizing the race, including the safety of racers and dogs along the 400km route, how to involve spectators in an event that lasts three to four days in a remote location and embracing sustainable practices in all aspects of the race.
The Response and the Result
As the communities that host the race are small and remote, Hudson Bay Quest offers a unique tourism product, different than all other products in Churchill and Arviat: a world class sporting event. Many Churchill tour companies work with organizers of Hudson Bay Quest to time packages to coincide with the dates of the race as it is regarded as an important inclusion in Churchill itineraries. Hudson Bay Quest is also scheduled to coincide with Churchill's Aurora WinterFest in late March of every year, and both events are able to cross-promote in order to increase attendance. The race draws international media coverage, bringing attention to these communities and inciting interest in their tourism offerings.
Events at the start and finish lines draw both local and visiting spectators, including a mushers' banquet at the culmination of the race where a traditional Inuit meal is served and prizes are awarded to the competitors. The race and the pre- and post-race events are embraced and supported by the communities as they represent the values of collaboration, generosity and conservation of heritage and environment.
Hudson Bay Quest is unique in that it features traditional Inuit komatiks next to modern racing sleds, linking the past and the future of dog sledding, representing the evolution of the indigenous peoples' way of life in the north. The race is run when the ground is still frozen, minimizing the impact the racers and the organizers have on the land. All campsites must be left clean and are monitored regularly. The event also promotes the proper treatment and care of both the land and the animals, with race rules outlining that the dogs must be well cared for and humanely treated.
Hudson Bay Quest has been successful in recruiting a volunteer committee with members in both Churchill and Arviat to organize, advertise, fundraise and manage logistics of the race, as there are no paid employees who work for Hudson Bay Quest. The event relies on the Canadian Rangers, a volunteer reserve arm of the Canadian military, to man the checkpoints, provide logistics support and ensure the race runs smoothly. Without their participation, the race would be too dangerous to run. As well, Hudson Bay Quest has developed another important relationship that enables the race to take place: Calm Air, a Manitoba-based air carrier, provides logistic support by flying committee members and dignitaries as well as all the dogteams and racers out of the north and southern racers and dogteams back to Churchill at the completion of the race.
The organizing committee was successful in recruiting sponsors, both locally and across the province, by helping these organizations understand the value of the event and the value of tourism in the north. With over 30 sponsors, Hudson Bay Quest is supported by larger organizations such as Manitoba Hydro, MTS and Via Rail as well as smaller community-based organizations.