Do you know what’s possibly the most insane winter competition in the world ? 

  

Out in Quebec city they race canoes on the St-Lawrence River. In February. 

 

It’s part of Le Carnaval de Quebec and let me tell you, it’s freeeezing. I know, I’m there every year. 

 

 

Consider this: Teams of competitors have to race in a deadly slush of bone chilling water while the most powerful river in Canada hurls blocks of ice the size of locomotives at them.  

 

 

Then, suddenly, there’s no water so they have to get out and run on sheets of ice that can crack at any time and swallow them whole. 

 

(Chris explains the race, pictured here)

 

 

 

The St-Lawrence River has a discharge of 9,850 m3/s, even more than the mighty McKenzie and way more than the majestic Yukon River. 

 

 

Brave (insane?) competitors have to go from Quebec City to Levis, across the river dodging moving walls of ice. And then come back ! Twice ! 

 

 

 

Some years, the weather is so mad that only a few teams make it. In 1958, only 4 of the 21 teams finished ! 

 

 

 

You can preview video excerpts, including a couple of canoe race teasers, from the Booksmarts Bienvenue au Carnaval French culture kit right now by clicking here. 

 

 

 

The race was originally held to determine who would get the lucrative contract to carry the mail. Today, it’s one of the many amazing attractions at Le Carnaval.