When a friendly wager in 2017 between two snowmobiling buddies became a little serious, Marion Fowler encouraged her son to “ride your snowmobiles for a cause.” She said, “if you are going to ride a snowmobile that far (700 miles unofficially), then raise money for those kids who cannot afford to enjoy summer camps.” This was the original beginning of the 1000 Mile Challenge. Marion has been and continues to be a supporter of New Brunswick’s Green Hill Lake Camp. Green Hill is located just north-west of Fredericton, NB. It is just one of the 15 camps who benefit from the proceeds of the annual 1000 Mile Challenge in New Brunswick.
Rudi Fowler is the son of Rock and Marion Fowler and the founder of the 1000 Mile Challenge. He was one of the young men who were in Marion’s kitchen. Rudi grew up very familiar with snowmobiles because of his dad’s life-long passion.
In March of 2024, we will see Rock Fowler lead a new team of riders for the Challenge. Matt Knaub, of Pennsylvania, and Cody Hetherington, of Gornish, NB, join Rock.
Rock’s motivation for supporting and completing the 1000 Mile Challenge is deeply personal. At age 11, Rock attended Green Hill Lake Camp. It was 1970 and he had recently lost his father. As the oldest child, he became the “man of his family.”
Rock recalls how important attending the summer camp was when he was this 11-year-old kid. He reflected, “This may be the only real time kids are going to get a very different positive world exposure.” The camps teach kids life values, work ethics, responsibility and the difference between right and wrong. He finished his reflection with, “the 1000 Mile Challenge is the marriage of a passion for snowmobiling and sending kids to camp.”
1000 Mile Challenge
In 2024, the 1000 Mile Challenge is preparing for its fourth edition … with an improved format. It runs exclusively on New Brunswick’s vast groomed trail network. The trails, stops, and logistics are all coordinated to create a loop of 1000 miles when entirely ridden. There is a suggested route, but teams are free to ride their own itinerary.
There were just two riders in 2021: Rudi Fowler and his close friend, Danny Lunn. In 2022, Rudi and another friend, Sam Charters, completed the feat. The next year, with lots of momentum and a far greater awareness in the public, two teams participated. One team in 2023 included the first female rider, Lisa Whiteman, from Ontario, who remains very involved. Lisa is a paramount inspiration to female sledders everywhere.
2024 brings format changes, new faces, and new teams. But the primary goal has not changed. Send kids to camp. However, the expectations are also much higher.
There are sixteen (16) teams accepted and registered now. There are approximately 50 riders. With each rider responsible to raise a minimum of $2500, the hope is to shatter the $250,000 raised to date. They have up to a week to do it. Most teams will accomplish their challenge in three to four days. In 2024, the 1000 Mile Challenge runs from March 3rd to 9th.
You can sponsor and or donate to a team or donate directly to the challenge by visiting their website. This event is for the kids.
Rock Fowler—Quiet Leader of the 1000 Mile Challenge
Rock Fowler is a quiet leader. Always has been. Snowmobiling has been a part of his entire adult life. He estimates his riding “career” to over 55 years now. He enjoys riding a motorbike as well, but was quick to point out, “I would give that up for snowmobiling in a heart beat.”
Rock also served as the President of the Oromocto River Valley Snowmobile Club in the early 2000s. This is one of the oldest clubs in Snowmobile New Brunswick’s (SNB’s) Federation. Club #11 was a snowmobile association that formed in the late 1970s before SNB was incorporated in 1982.
Team TNT Building Supplies
Rock will be guiding his team of three riders in the 2024 edition of the 1000 Mile Challenge. They have formed “Team TNT Building Supplies.” Their personal goal is to run the 1000 miles over three days.
Rock, like all of the 2024 registered riders, has agreed to raise a minimum of $2500. He hopes to raise much more and, as of January, is well on his way. The major sponsor for his team is TNT Building Supplies from Keswick Ridge, NB. The owners are huge believers in the goal that is to send kids to camps.
500 Kids Have Benefitted
Hundreds of kids have attended a camp—for free—in the past three years. In the first edition, in 2021, with just two riders, the 1000 Mile Challenge raised $20,000.
In 2022, again with only two riders, it raised $80,000. Then, in 2023, the two teams collectively raised $150,000. Thus, in just three seasons, they raised a grand total of $250,000. And there are over 500 very happy kids because of it.
Teams, riders, and their snowmobiles will be challenged like never before in the 1000 Mile Challenge. Most riders have spent their early winter preparing themselves and their sleds. Social media posts from every team are all part of the momentum. They are also busy performing maintenance on their sleds. These preparations are as prevalent as promoting the event, the supporters and the sponsors.
Logistically, a tentative ride route on groomed trails has been penned for the 2024 Challenge. The final route being used is dependent on the riders, sponsors, accommodation partners, fuel stops, etc. This final route will be published for the public soon.
It is clear that this event is about sending kids to camps. The teams are reminded regularly that this event is not about them personally but about the core objective. Snowmobiling is, and has been, the tool to motivate the fundraising, but this is about Marion, Rock, and Rudi’s vision to provide for kids.
The 1000 Mile Challenge is another feather in New Brunswick’s hat … as a snowmobiling destination. The Challenge’s success now works as an ambassador for New Brunswick snowmobiling and for the kid’s summer camps.
Again, please consider donating at 1000milechallenge.ca.
Riding for a cause, and all the kids win.
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