Battle for [Timmins] king — and queen — of the drill – by Benjamin Aubé (Timmins Daily Press – May 30, 2013)

The Daily Press is the city of Timmins broadsheet newspaper.

TIMMINS – Three large rocks riddled with holes lay defeated outside of the McIntyre Arena at The Big Event, Canada’s largest annual mining expo. The weapon of choice at this grisly crime scene? A frighteningly powerful Secan S-250 Jackleg drill.

If you weren’t a giant rock getting holes drilled into you, though, the expo’s Jackleg Drilling Competition was actually a very cool place to be on Wednesday. “I was a driller for 25 years,” yelled organizer Moe Denis over the loud water and air pumps powering the jackleg. “It’s a way of life, it’s the Northern way of life up here.”

Three separate contests were held, including a competition between regional mayors, a women’s division, and finally a matchup between some of the North’s top pros.

In the mayoral heat, Tom Laughren had the City with a Heart of Gold behind him as he went up against Kapuskasing mayor Al Spacek, and Cochrane Coun. Rey Brisson. “I think we’re going to give the win to Spacek,” said Laughren with a sly smile. “That was the decision in the end.

“You know what, to be very honest, all the guys do good. At the same time, it’s about promotion, it’s great for the region. To get those guys in here promoting the industry, it’s big.”

Indeed, one of the yearly highlights of The Big Event seemed to bring out the best in competitors from all the divisions.

“I think I did pretty good, it wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be,” said Sarah Byrnes, after completing her turn on the jackleg. “I would have done better if I had started my own hole.”

Byrnes works as a diamond drill-hole surveyor, a job which brings her all over Canada’s Great White North. However, this was her first time on the drill.

“I wasn’t even going to join but they asked me, and I felt obligated. I was kind of nervous, but it was fun. I’d do it again.”

Asked what the best part was, Byrnes quickly responded, “When you let go.”

In the end, Tina Pellerin showed her mettle and walked away with the championship trophy for the women’s division.

Though Pellerin works for Aecon Mining, it was also her first time drilling a hole in solid rock.

“I’m an executive assistant, so I’m not a driller, by far,” she said laughing. “It was exhilarating actually, it was a lot of fun. It was vibrating, I didn’t think it would vibrate so much in the arms. I’m still shaking a little now. I wouldn’t want to do that all day long.

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