WHITEHORSE, YUKON - Registration opened November 1, 2015 for the 18th annual Yukon River Quest which will be held June 29 to July 3, 2016.
The 715-kilometer (444-mile) wilderness adventure paddling race is held on the Yukon River from Whitehorse to Dawson City in Canada’s Yukon Territory. Held during the last week of June, the YRQ is the world's longest annual canoe and kayak race. It is known as the "Race to the Midnight Sun," as paddlers race round-the-clock under a sky that never gets dark. There are just two mandatory rest stops - totaling 10 hours - over the course of the entire event.
The Yukon River Quest in 2014 was named one of the ten toughest races in the world by renowned adventure racer and "Boundless" TV star Simon Donato, and is widely known as Canada's toughest adventure race.
Online entry forms are available starting November 1 via a link on the race website www.yukonriverquest.com under the Register tab. Entry fees remain $850 (CAD) for tandem canoes and kayaks, $475 for solo canoes and kayaks, and $250 per person for voyageur canoe teams of six or more paddlers.
Deadline for entries is May 15, 2016, but teams are encouraged to register early due to the worldwide popularity of the event. There is a limit of 100 canoe and kayak teams, which includes a limit of 30 solo teams. These solo teams should register immediately to reserve a slot. Paddlers should have race or wilderness paddling experience, and all boats must meet the specifications defined in the 2016 YRQ Rules posted on the website.
Teams are required to have a SPOT device mounted on top of their boats and activated for tracking before their team is officially registered. Introduced in 2012, this requirement allowed teams to be able to be tracked during the race from links on the Yukon River Quest website. It has been hugely popular with spectators all over the world. During the 2015 race there was a reach of more than 31,000 people via Facebook as well.
The 2016 race purse will be $36,500 (CAD) if a full roster of 100 teams is registered by the May 15 deadline. Otherwise the purse is adjusted downward on a percentage basis.
There are overall cash prizes for each class - tandem canoe, tandem kayak, solos, and voyageur canoes - as well as prizes for the top three in each division. There also are $500 cash prizes for the top all-Yukon canoe and kayak teams, and the top First Nations team. Several special awards are also donated by Yukon sponsors. A complete prize breakdown can be found in the race rules on the website.
The Yukon River Quest draws participants from all over the world. In 2015, 57 teams from 12 countries started the race and 44 teams finished. First team in was the USA-Canada tandem kayak Time To Go paddled by David Hutchinson of Montana and Bob Ross of Ontario in 44 hours, 51 minutes, 07 seconds, followed by tandem canoe team Perfect Storm from Ontario paddled by Gaetan Plourde and Jeff Brainard in 45:33:46, the Canada-USA women's voyageur team 3-2-1- Go in 49:29:17, and the top solo team, Northshore Paddler Martin Rother of British Columbia in 49:29:30. They were the only teams to break the 50-hour barrier; times overall were slow for the second straight year due to a lower than normal river and stormy conditions late in the race.
The course record still belongs to Canadian voyageur Team Kisseynew's winning time of 39:32:43 in 2008.
Teams must finish the YRQ 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 Kirkman Creek (3 hours), teams paddle non-stop to reach the "City of Gold".
The race is supported by more than 200 volunteers, and potential volunteers also are encouraged to sign up over the winter.
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, the CBC, and 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, including Help for Heroes, a charity for those wounded in British conflicts that was supported by two Interserve teams in recent years.
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.
The race is organized by the Yukon River Marathon Paddling Association, based in Whitehorse, Yukon, Canada. Major logo-level sponsors in 2015 were the Whitehorse Star, Kanoe People, Air North, yukoninfo.com, Pepsi-Aquafina, Up North Adventures, Gold Trail Jewellers, City of Whitehorse, Superior Roofing & Renovation, CKRW-The Rush, and MAKEIT (race tracker/registration software by Peter Coates). Many small businesses also support the race by sponsoring paddler bibs - see details about sponsorship packages on the website or contact the race office.
The YRMPA welcomes new members. The YRMPA Annual General Meeting will be held at Sport Yukon at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, December 17, 2015. If anyone is interested in joining or becoming a volunteer for the event, please contact the race organization at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 867-333-5628.
Justin Kennedy’s photo essays from the 2011 Yukon River Quest
Touched by the Yukon captures the soul of Alaska, and Latvia