“Race to the Midnight Sun” expands prize money throughout classes as YRQ moves into third decade. Race dates are June 26-30, 2019
Registrations will be accepted beginning November 1, 2018 for the 21st annual Yukon River Quest (YRQ), which will be held June 26 to June 30, 2019. 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 has made the YRQ a huge success. For its 20th anniversary year in 2018, a record 103 started the race and 76 finished. A revised prize money structure will award the top men, women and mixed teams across the board in every class, and bonus money for the top 10 overall teams and others.
Roger Hanberg, president of the Yukon River Marathon Paddlers Association (YRMPA), said a fairer distribution of prize money was a goal of the board after this past year’s race.
“We listened to the racers in the post-race feedback and reviewed the prize structure,” he said.
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 are the same as in 2018: $525 per solo team (C1, K1, SUP); $950 per tandem team (C2, K2); and $300 per paddler for C4 and voyageur canoe (VC) teams.
Total possible prize money has increased to $42,830, based on 100 teams registered by June 1. The purse is adjusted upward or downward by a percentage point based on the final number of teams registered above or below 100.
A limit of 125 teams will again be in place for the 2019 race. The YRMPA board recently approved an increase in the limit for solo teams from 40 to 50. The voyageur canoe limit remains at 15 teams. These solo and voyageur teams should register early. A lottery system used last year for solo teams will not be used this year, so it will be first come, first served for those voyageur, C1, K1 and SUP teams, and a wait list will start after the limits are reached. See Register page for more details.
All paddlers should have endurance race or wilderness paddling experience, and all vessels must meet specifications in the 2019 YRQ Rules, which are now posted and are translated into six languages on the website.
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. Following the actual race live online has been hugely popular with spectators all over the world. During recent races, the reach exceeded more than 30,000 via Facebook.
The past two years have seen record numbers of teams with the addition of Stand Up Paddleboards (SUP) and four-person C4 canoes. Recently, the Yukon River Quest added five new C4s to its rental fleet. These canoes can be rented by registered teams from the website.
The new prize money structure awards the top three male, female and mixed teams per class as long as they beat another team in its class and finish within 25% of the top team in the class. Bonus prize money also will be given in several areas to: the top 10 teams overall; any team that breaks a record in its class; the top First Nations team; the top Yukon male, female and mixed teams; the top senior team (age 55 and over), and the top young adult team (age 19-24). Several special awards are also donated by Yukon and Alaska sponsors. A complete prize breakdown can be found in the race rules on the website.
However, many do the race for the personal satisfaction of staking their claim to a coveted Yukon River Quest Finisher Pin in historic Dawson City. Paddlers who have finished multiple YRQs also now covet entrance into the “Great River Club” which was unveiled for the 20th anniversary. Racers who have logged 5,000 and 10,000 kilometers are members of that club and receive special pins.
“The Great River Club was first discussed years ago after seeing how many racers come back year after year,” said YRMPA vice president Bryan Allemang. “The 20th anniversary was the perfect time to recognize the achievements of individual paddlers while we also celebrate the event itself. For more information visit the Great River Club page https://www.yukonriverquest.com/great-river-club/ ”
The race is all about endurance. 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 hours, 32 minutes, 43 seconds in 2008. The 2018 overall winning time was 44:21:53 by the voyageur team Yukon Wide Adventures, repeating as overall champions.
The race’s continued success depends on hundreds of dedicated volunteers, who are greatly appreciated by our racers and have a good time helping out during the last week of June.
“The continual devotion from our volunteers continues to make this amazing race thrive,” Hanberg said. “This race would not happen without your help.” Various volunteer opportunities are listed under the Volunteer page on the website, where you will be directed to a new site where you can see the various jobs and shifts and sign up online.
The YRMPA also 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 Tuesday, December 4. Watch for more news about YRQ 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 2018 were Yukon Community Development Fund, Goldcorp, Yukon 1000 Race Timing Software, Gold Trail Jewellers, Paddel Jumper, Lotteries Yukon, Air North, Kanoe People, Whitehorse Star, yukoninfo.com, Pepsi–Aquafina, City of Whitehorse, Up North Adventures, Superior Roofing YT, CKRW-The RUSH, Total North Communications, Yukon Civil Air Search & Rescue (CASARA), Yukon Wide Adventures, The Coal Mine Campground, Fireweed Helicopters, Save On Foods, North 60 Petro, Rock Solid Exploration, and Holland America Line.
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.