Iqaluit's annual Toonik Tyme festival continues on until Saturday, but an early frontrunner for the festival's big winner may be Kuujjuaq, Quebec's Bobby Gordon, the 2017 winner of the popular Iqaluit to Kimmirut snowmobile race.

The popular event, which sees participants snowmobile 240 kilometres from Iqaluit to Kimmirut and back, returned to Toonik Tyme this year after last year's iteration was cancelled due to trail conditions on the Kimmirut side. 

Gordon made his return to the race for the first time since 2003, when he finished second to his uncle.

"I always wanted to go get my title over there," he said Tuesday, from Kuujjuaq. "It felt so awesome and emotional. I don't know how to explain it."

David Coulombe's snowmobile

The race can be treacherous, as riders travel on the land at high speeds. Rider David Coulombe's snowmobile was totalled just 1 kilometre outside of Iqaluit. (David Coulombe)

During the race, riders faced cold conditions — Gordon estimates the temperature felt like -35 with windchill on the Kimmirut side — as well as sometimes treacherous conditions.

"You have to stay on the trail," he said. "The trail is... there's 'land mines.' There's rocks."

The trip was also made at very high speeds. Gordon said that he stayed over 110 kilometres an hour for the entire race, topping out at over 163 kilometres an hour. 

For his win, Gordon will take home a big prize — $18,000 in prize money — but for him, the experience of returning to the race, over a decade later, was the real bounty.

"It was so fantastic that nobody got hurt, and everybody was in good spirits," he said. "It was a nice day. A very nice day."