Photo by Mark Koch on Unsplash
Registration opens in November for 22nd Yukon River Quest. New staggered race registration by class commences Nov. 1, 8 and 15 for the return of the “Race to the Midnight Sun” on June 22-25, 2022.
Registrations will be accepted beginning November 1, 8 and 15 for the 22nd Yukon River Quest (YRQ), which will be held June 22 to June 25, 2022. The event was cancelled in 2020 due to COVID and again in 2021 due to flooding, but will go forward next summer. The 715-kilometer (444-mile) marathon paddling race is run on the Yukon River from Whitehorse to Dawson City in Canada’s Yukon Territory in late June.
A note from the organizers:
The race passes through the traditional lands of five Yukon First Nations and honours the cultures of those who have lived off the river and nurtured it for centuries. During the lull of the last two years, organizers have worked on a number of changes, including the new staggered registration process. A number of Canadian teams that were registered prior to the last-minute 2021 race cancellation deferred their registrations and are already in the 2022 field, which has been expanded to 150 teams.
Due to high demand, race registration will open by class on these dates, all starting at 14:00 Mountain Standard Time: Nov. 1 for voyageur and C4 canoes; Nov. 8 for tandem kayaks and canoes; Nov. 15 for solo canoes, kayaks and SUPs (stand-up paddleboards). Team captains will pay a $50 race deposit to be added to a wait list in order of when they register. In addition to the 150-team overall limit, there are limits to the number of voyageur canoes (20) and solo craft (75).
A new Half Race from Whitehorse to Carmacks will be limited to 15 additional teams. Peter Coates, president of the Yukon River Marathon Paddlers Association (YRMPA), explained the changes: “The first big difference is that we are only asking for the $50 wait-list fee. That is because there is still uncertainty surrounding COVID. The assumption is that things will be clearer in the spring and we will ask for the full race fee then. We do not want to be in the position we were in 2020 where we had to refund race fees to lots of teams. “The second difference is that we are registering big boats first, then a week later the tandems, then a week after that the solos. Solos will not be disadvantaged by this: a week will be subtracted from their entry timestamp so they position on the wait-list will be up there with the tandems. The reason we are doing this is that the race entry has had to be configured oddly so we are only taking the wait-list fee, and we want to avoid the tsunami of entries we had in 2019. It things start going wrong we want it to be a manageable problem.”
The “Race to the Midnight Sun” for many years was the world’s longest annual paddling race and remains unique because teams race round-the-clock on a wilderness river and under a sky that never gets dark. The 2022 race will be dedicated to long-time Yukon racer and organizer Ingrid Wilcox, who passed away early in 2021. The allure of the Yukon River has made the YRQ a huge success. In the two years preceding the COVID pandemic, more than 100 teams registered, prompting race officials to adjust the team registration limit to 125 teams.
During the last race in 2019, a record 117 teams were at the start line, and 86 of them finished. New 2022 teams will be full registered in March when more is known about how the race will run next year under anticipated COVID protocols. Prior to the cancellation in 2021 due to flooding, a race was approved by health officials for Canadian teams. Several of those teams deferred their registration to 2022.
The YRQ welcomes the return of an international field, but paddlers and their support crews will need to follow strict protocols for both entry into Canada and participating in this Yukon event, which travels through several communities and First Nations. For current Yukon and Canada health and travel mandates visit: Yukon: https://yukon.ca/en/covid-19-information Canada: https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/diseases/coronavirus-disease-covid19.html
Other changes noted in the new 2022 rules include: – Entry fees increased to $400 per team plus $400 per paddler. Prize money also increased to a little over $64,000 CDN if there is a full field. – Teams will be divided into two fleets in anticipation of two start times at 9 a.m. and 12 noon on June 22. These are necessitated by available bank space at the Whitehorse start. We also plan to split up teams into two camping areas in Carmacks. See details in the rules, including adjusted cutoff times.
As in the 2021 rules before the race was cancelled, the second mandatory stop has moved to Minto Resort, and teams will declare stop times for Carmacks and Minto (which can be adjusted during the race) adding up to 10 hours. – Some changes to tracking device (SpotX and In Reach) protocols. See details in the rules on the website, which are posted in English along with a Race Guide and several preparation tips. The rules are subject to change. While many enter the race to finish with a fast time and earn prize money, most do the race for the personal satisfaction of staking their claim to a coveted YRQ Finisher Pin (there also will be Half Quest pins).
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. For more information visit the Great River Club page on the website. The full race is all about endurance. Aside from two mandatory layovers at Carmacks and Minto Resort, teams paddle non-stop to reach Dawson City The YRQ course record still belongs to voyageur Team Kisseynew’s winning time of 39 hours, 32 minutes, 43 seconds in 2008.
The 2019 overall winning time was 44:59:10 by the C2 team #wepaddletogether of Saskatchewan, Canada. 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 race week in June. Various volunteer opportunities are listed under the Volunteer page on the website, where you can see the various jobs and shifts and sign up online. Watch for a schedule and more news about YRQ events as we move into spring. YRMPA also welcomes new members, who may join via a link on the website. The organization’s AGM will be held via Zoom on November 24.
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.
Major logo-level sponsors are: Yukon 1000 Race Timing Software, Gold Trail Jewellers, CKRW-The RUSH, Air North, Kanoe People, Whitehorse Star, PR Services-yukoninfo.com, Pepsi–Aquafina, City of Whitehorse, Up North Adventures, Superior Roofing YT, Total North Communications, Yukon Civil Air Search & Rescue (CASARA), Yukon Wide Adventures, The Coal Mine Campground, Selkirk Development Corp.-Minto Resorts, Fireweed Helicopters, North 60 Petro, and Make IT Solutions.
For more information, view the pre-registration instructions, rules, and numerous paddler preparation links at www.yukonriverquest.com and watch for updates on Facebook and Instagram.