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'A journey of a lifetime'

'It built a certain bond that’s going to remain with us for the rest of our lives'
Dan and Simon
Dan Dube and his son Simon holding their winning ticket in Halifax. Photo supplied.

After five weeks of following Dan and Simon Dube compete on the French reality TV show ‘A Fond De Train,’ it has finally come to an end, culminating in the last challenge in Halifax. On that last day, the North Bay father/son duo managed to grab the win by the skin of their teeth, after turning the tables after being three minutes behind the other team leading into the afternoon of the race.

 “Before we went there was a bonus challenge that gives you a clue for the other challenges in the afternoon, it was a question about time zones and Simon hasn’t seen them in class yet at that time, but he still got the answer which was very important for us in the afternoon,” he said of the final day.

“They left three minutes before us so we opened the clue and knew what it was right away, because it talked about Italians being inventors of radio communications and I knew Marconi was it. We had to cipher a mores code clue, and we caught up with the other team right away. We ran and passed them right after leaving the boat and never looked back basically.”

But for Dan, it’s been a bitter sweet ending, as the stress of constant competition is over, but along with it, the hype of the race, and taste of further victories—the closest being three consecutive wins.

In the cross-country competition, two duos compete starting in Vancouver and ending in Halifax with many stops in between. Dube and his son landed their shot to compete, jumping on the train in Sudbury. The catch: the winners get back on the train to face a new duo, while the losers go back home.

Dan and Simon started their first competition in Toronto, then Ottawa, Quebec, Moncton, and finally Halifax, winning every single city—a feat not accomplished by any other team during the entire stretch of the show from Vancouver.

“It’s been one of the most surprising things for us is the amount of people that watch and the support,” Dan said. “The pressure is off for sure, we’re kind of in withdrawal now with no more episodes to watch and look forward to.”

When the duo originally set off via train in Sudbury, their goal was to get to the end and win every single race they competed in, and with the final city in hand, they reached it.

“That’s why it’s the most satisfying one,” Dan said. “We had easier victories, close victories but that was the most satisfying.”

But the competitions were really a chance for father and son to see each other in an almost new light. It gave a chance for Dan to really see how well his son performed under duress, under the constant stress of competition, day after day, while Simon got to see his dad could keep up—something Dan think his son might have really underestimated.

After all, what child doesn’t think of their father as an old man at some point?

With that, Dan and Simon accumulated $7,500 in vouchers for use via rail—a prize they plan on using to travel across Canada to Vancouver, retracing the steps of the early races of the show they didn’t have a chance to compete in before jumping on in Sudbury.

“We’ve already booked our trip out west so we’re going to be gone for a few weeks this summer, so we’ll do the other part of the country by train. Then, Simon and I will have traveled Canada east to west by train together.”

And with their recent victories fading into memory, Dan and Simon continue their lives, coming out differently, if only in the slightest of ways, a new bond built upon their journey of a lifetime.

“The time with my son was the main part of it,” Dan said. “It built a certain bond that’s going to remain with us for the rest of our lives. I’d call this the adventure of a lifetime. The song that would play on the phone in the morning to wake us up was Coldplay’s Adventure of a Lifetime and I don’t think there is anything else to compare to it. We got to travel by train, see cities, spend so much time together, and celebrate our victories.”