Registrations are now being accepted for the 11th annual Yukon River Quest, the longest annual canoe and kayak race in the world, which will be held June 24-June 28, 2009.
The 740-kilometer (460-mile) wilderness adventure paddling marathon is held on the Yukon River from Whitehorse to Dawson City in Canada’s Yukon Territory. New online entry forms were made available via a link on the race website
www.yukonriverquest.com over the weekend.
Deadline for entries has been moved up to April 15, 2009, but teams are encouraged to register early due to the growing worldwide popularity of the event. There remains a limit of 100 canoe and kayak teams, which includes a limit of 20 solo kayak and 10 solo canoe teams. These solo teams should register immediately to reserve a spot. All boats must meet the specifications defined in the YRQ rules on the website.
Entry fees have been increased nominally to pay for processing through eventsonline.ca. The fees are now $714 (CAD) for tandem canoes and kayaks, $408 for solo canoes and kayaks, and $205 per person for voyageur canoe teams of six or more paddlers. Each team captain also must submit a refundable $200 rescue deposit cheque in the event that the team, along with its gear, has to be evacuated by safety boat. Team biographies will appear on the race website after this deposit and paddler information for a team is received.
The 2009 race purse has been increased to $36,000 (CAD) from $31,000 in 2008. This includes new open, mixed and women's divisions in the growing voyageur class. The top three teams in each class will receive additional cash prizes on top of what they receive for placing in their divisions. A complete prize breakdown can be found in the race rules on the website. There again will be $500 cash prizes for the top all-Yukon canoe and kayak teams, as well as several special awards donated by sponsors.
One major change in 2009 will be a new start location for the Yukon River Quest. It is being moved off Main Street to Rotary Park, where the race will begin at 12 noon in the grass by the gazebo with the historic SS Klondike looming in the background. Paddlers will have a 300-meter run to their boats.
"We had a good run from Main Street over the first 10 years of the event, but the bigger numbers over the past few years has made it very difficult to coordinate the Le Mans style start there without it disrupting traffic in the downtown area," said race spokesman Jeff Brady. "It will be easier for our racers and our volunteers to have the start closer to the river."
Brady added, "We'd like to thank the City of Whitehorse parks and tourism departments for working with us to make this happen. It should be a great start. The public will be able to fan out on the river bank from Rotary Park to Main Street for great views of the mass of teams as they jump in their boats and head down the river."
In 2008, registrations hit the 100 mark for the first time, and a record 89 teams actually started the race, with 70 finishing in Dawson City. Canadian voyageur team Kisseynew set a new course record in 39:32:43 to beat the 2007 winners from Texas by a half hour. Other records were broken in solo men's kayak, solo canoe, mixed canoe, women's kayak, and mixed kayak.