20th annual Yukon River Quest
Registrations will be accepted beginning November 1, 2017 for the 20th annual Yukon River Quest, which will be held June 27 to July 1, 2018. The 715-kilometer (444-mile) wilderness adventure paddling race is run on the Yukon River from Whitehorse to Dawson City in Canada’s Yukon Territory during the last week of June. The “Race to the Midnight Sun” is the world’s longest annual paddling race as teams race round-the-clock under a sky that never gets dark.
The allure of the Yukon River Quest (YRQ) has made it a huge success, and for its 20th anniversary year in 2018, up to 125 teams will be allowed to participate, the first such increase ever approved by the race organization. Next year’s YRQ will be the 20th since the northern paddling event was conceived in 1999 after two successful Dyea to Dawson gold rush centennial races in 1997-98. The previous limit of 100 teams has been raised due to more interest in the past two years with the addition of Standup Paddleboards (SUP) and four-person C4 canoes.
Roger Hanberg, president of the Yukon River Marathon Paddlers Association, said 2018 was a good year to boost numbers to help celebrate the 20th anniversary.
“This last year’s race registration filled to capacity before year end 2016. By allowing 25 more canoes or kayaks we hope to accommodate all the past and any new Yukon paddlers who missed the boat last year.
“That being said I urge you to plan to register early. By registering in November you will guarantee your place in this legendary event.
Online entry forms are available starting at 18:00 (6 p.m.) Pacific Daylight Time on November 1 via a link on the race website www.yukonriverquest.com under the Register tab. Entry fees have been increased by $50 Cdn. per paddler for the first time in nearly a decade to cover increasing race expenses. They are now: $525 per solo team (C1, K1, SUP); $950 per tandem team (C2, K2); and $300 per paddler for C4 and voyageur canoe (VC) teams.
The C4 canoes, which were added last year and raced in the voyageur class, have been moved into their own open class. This bumps the total available prize money for the event to $42,000 (from $39,200), if 100 or more teams are registered by June 1. Otherwise the purse is adjusted downward on a percentage basis.
In addition to the increase in the overall team limit, the YRMPA board approved an increase in the limit for solo teams from 35 to 40. The voyageur limit remains at 15 teams. These solo and voyageur teams should register early. In fact, due to the popularity of the solo classes, a lottery system has been put in place for the first week of registration to be fair to those trying to register around the world. See Register page for more details.
All paddlers should have race or wilderness paddling experience, and all vessels must meet specifications in the 2018 YRQ Rules, which are now posted and are translated into six languages on the website.
The registration deadlines have been altered slightly. Early deadline for entries remains at May 15, but teams may be registered late through June 1, 2018, the final deadline, if space is available.
Each team is required to have SPOT or similar tracking devices mounted on top of their vessel and activated for tracking before the team is officially registered. This requirement allows teams to be able to be tracked during the race from links on the Yukon River Quest website. Being able to follow the actual race online has been hugely popular with spectators all over the world. During recent races, the reach exceeded more than 30,000 via Facebook.
There are overall cash prizes for each class and the top three in each division. There also are $500 cash prizes for the top First Nations team and top all-Yukon canoe and kayak teams. Several special awards also are donated by Yukon sponsors. A complete prize breakdown can be found in the race rules on the website.
Teams must finish the Yukon River Quest in 55 hours to receive prize money, but many do the race for the personal satisfaction of staking their claim to a coveted finisher pin in historic Dawson City. Aside from two mandatory layovers at Carmacks (7 hours) and Coffee Creek (3 hours), teams paddle non-stop to reach the “City of Gold”.
The course record still belongs to Canadian voyageur Team Kisseynew’s winning time of 39:32:43 in 2008. The 2017 overall winning time was 42:47:08 by the voyageur team Yukon Wide Adventures.
Twentieth Anniversary celebrations are being planned for Whitehorse and Dawson City during the event. These celebrations will require an addition to the more than 225 volunteers who already make the event special. Any new volunteers also are encouraged to sign up now online to insure a duty they’d enjoy most and join in on the planning.
“The continual devotion from our volunteers continues to make this amazing race thrive,” Hanberg said. “This race would not happen without your help.”
“From Jeff Brady (one of the originators of the race) to each and every volunteer we appreciate their efforts. Trying to make sure the volunteer experience is lots of fun brings many helpers back. That said, we always need and welcome new volunteers, be it checkpoint volunteers on the river, prerace registrars, start line traffic control, or a hundred other duties. If you want some early summer fun, please sign up online as a Yukon River Quest volunteer.”
Various volunteer opportunities are listed under the Volunteer page on the website, as well as contact information for signing up. The YRMPA welcomes new members and additions to its board of directors. The YRMPA Annual General Meeting will be held at Sport Yukon at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, December 14, 2017. Watch for more news about 20th Anniversary events over the winter and spring.
The Yukon River Quest is the premier paddling event in Canada’s North and is widely recognized throughout the paddling and adventure racing world. It has been featured in numerous publications, online, and in shows on NBC-TV, the BBC, and the CBC. The YRQ was named one of the ten toughest races in the world by renowned adventure racer and “Boundless” TV star Simon Donato. The race was beautifully featured a decade ago in the National Film Board of Canada’s critically acclaimed “River of Life” about Paddlers Abreast, a voyageur team of Yukon breast cancer survivors that races every year. Many other worthy causes have been represented as well.
Major logo-level sponsors in 2017 were GoldCorp, Yukon 1000 Race Timing Software, Gold Trail Jewellers, Whitehorse Star, Kanoe People, Air North, yukoninfo.com, Pepsi–Aquafina, Up North Adventures, City of Whitehorse, Superior Roofing & Renovation, CKRW-The Rush, Total North Communications, Yukon Civil Air Search & Rescue (CASARA), Yukon Wide Adventures, The Coal Mine Campground, and Fireweed Helicopters.
Many small businesses also support the race by sponsoring paddler bibs – see details about bib and sponsorship packages on the website or contact the race office at 867-333-5628.
For more information, view the pre-registration instructions, rules, and numerous paddler preparation links at www.yukonriverquest.com . For current news watch the site and the race’s Facebook page.