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Snowmobiler logs record-setting 2,125.04 miles in 24 hours during Lake of the Woods fundraiser

The marathon snowmobile session was a fundraiser to help send underprivileged kids to Bible camp.

Willie on sled.jpg
Willie Ewing makes a turn on his record-setting 24-hour snowmobile ride that wrapped up Monday, March 14, 2022, on Lake of the Woods. Ewing, of Becker, Minnesota, rode 2,125.04 miles in 24 hours to set a pending world record for the longest distance traveled on a single snowmobile in 24 hours. The ride was a fundraiser for sending underprivileged kids to Bible camp.
Contributed / 1day4kids.com

Brad Dokken
Brad Dokken

LAKE OF THE WOODS, Minn. – Imagine driving a snowmobile for 24 hours straight and logging 2,125.04 miles in the process.

I get sore just thinking about it.

That’s what snowmobile enthusiast Willie Ewing of Becker, Minnesota, did Monday, March 14, on Lake of the Woods, where he set a pending world record for driving the farthest distance on a snowmobile in 24 hours. Assisted by a large team of volunteers, all professionals in the snowmobile industry, Ewing drove a 1,000cc Arctic Cat ThunderOne for 202 laps around a 10-plus-mile course on Lake of the Woods in a fundraising effort to help send kids from families in need to summer Bible camps.

Do the math, and that’s an average speed of more than 88 mph in a 24-hour period.

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In the process, Ewing smashed the existing 24-hour world record of 1,908 miles on a snowmobile. That ride took two snowmobiles, while Ewing drove the same sled for his entire ride.

Owner of The Shock Shop in Becker, Ewing has decades of experience in the snowmobile industry and also has built nine different aircraft, including a high-performance stunt plane, according to his fundraising website , 1day4kids.com.

“I have been snowmobiling since I was 5 years old,” Ewing writes on the website. “I became a trained and certified snowmobile technician at the age of 16 and have continued working in the snowmobile industry. I have owned and operated The Shock Shop for the past 10 years.”

Willie 2.jpg
Willie Ewing of Becker, Minnesota, with the ThunderOne Arctic Cat snowmobile he drove on his record-setting ride March 13-14, 2022, on Lake of the Woods. The 2,125.04-mile ride in 24 hours was a fundraiser for sending underprivileged kids to Bible camp. Ewing holds the speed and noise waiver he received from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources in order to make the ride.
Contributed / 1day4kids.com

Being an avid snowmobiler myself, I can’t even imagine riding a snowmobile that far for that long.

I reached out to Ewing in hopes of hearing firsthand what the marathon snowmobile session was actually like and how he feels now that he’s accomplished his goal. We connected late Thursday morning, shortly before my deadline for this section, so I'll be following up with a more in-depth story about Ewing's remarkable ride.

So far, Ewing said he's raised about $40,000, with a goal of raising $50,000.

Anyone interested in contributing to Ewing’s cause – and it’s a good one – can check out the fundraiser website at 1day4kids.com , send an email to info1day4kids@yahoo.com or call (612) 619-2163.

Canada border update

There was a welcome development in cross-border travel between the U.S. and Canada this week, with the news that Canada will drop its COVID-19 testing requirements for fully vaccinated travelers entering the country effective Friday, April 1.

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CTV News and other Canadian media outlets broke the news Wednesday. Canadian Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos, Transport Minister Omar Alghabra and Tourism Minister Randy Boissonnault were expected to announce the easing of travel restrictions Thursday, CTV News reported.

While proof of a negative COVID-19 test will no longer be a requirement for entering Canada, travelers will still have to use the ArriveCAN app and enter proof of vaccination and other required information before entering the country.

Wednesday’s news marks the latest easing of cross-border entry requirements. In late February, Canada began allowing travelers to show proof of a negative rapid antigen test administered in a health care setting instead of a negative PCR molecular test taken no more than 72 hours before attempting to cross the border.

Rapid test results generally are available in half an hour or less, while PCR test results can take two to three days or more.

I’ve been in Canada twice since the border reopened to nonessential travel Monday, Aug. 9, and PCR testing requirements were still in effect both times. I made the 72-hour testing window with less than half an hour to spare on both occasions.

That’s cutting it a bit too close for comfort when travel plans are involved.

Eliminating the requirement for a negative COVID test no doubt is welcome news to Canada’s tourism industry and resorts on Minnesota’s Northwest Angle. A Minnesota exclave, the Northwest Angle is bordered on three sides by Canada and accessible by road only by driving through some 40 miles of Manitoba before re-entering Minnesota.

In the meantime, though, unvaccinated travelers can’t enter Canada, and that needs to change, Gerry Cariou, executive director of the Ontario Sunset Country Travel Association in Kenora, Ontario, told me in an email.

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The association represents some 165 resorts and lodges in northwestern Ontario, the part of the province closest to the Minnesota border. Americans traditionally make up more than 90% of the client base for Canadian fishing camps, and the tourism industry has been reeling since the onset of the pandemic in March 2020.

“While any development or policy change that makes it easier for travelers from the USA to get into Canada is welcome news, we still need a solution for unvaccinated travelers and removal of the use of ArriveCan on entry for the tourism industry to fully recover to pre-pandemic levels,” Cariou said in his email. “This is good news for vaccinated travelers but not the unvaccinated ones. No path for entry into Canada of unvaccinated travelers remains a problem that needs to be resolved.”

The same holds true for unvaccinated travelers wanting to drive to the Northwest Angle because they have to clear Canada customs to reach their Minnesota destination. Whether Canada ultimately lifts its vaccination requirements remains to be seen.

Personally, I wouldn’t count on that happening anytime soon.

Brad Dokken joined the Herald company in November 1985 as a copy editor for Agweek magazine and has been the Grand Forks Herald's outdoors editor since 1998.

Besides his role as an outdoors writer, Dokken has an extensive background in northwest Minnesota and Canadian border issues and provides occasional coverage on those topics.

Reach him at bdokken@gfherald.com, by phone at (701) 780-1148 or on Twitter at @gfhoutdoor.
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