WHITEHORSE, YUKON – The final push is on for teams to enter the 13th annual Yukon River Quest, which will be held June 29 to July 3.
The 460-mile wilderness adventure paddling race is held on the Yukon River from Whitehorse to Dawson City. Known as the “Race to the Midnight Sun,” paddlers race round-the-clock, as the sky never gets dark. It is a true marathon with just two mandatory rest stops of 10 hours over the course of the entire event.
Registrations surpassed the 75-team mark late last month, which means there are about 20 spots open before the limit of 100 teams is hit. Registration deadline is May 1.
“This is typically the time when we see many of our local teams register,” said Stephen Mooney, president of the Yukon River Marathon Paddlers Association. “They need to register soon so they don’t miss out.”
As of early this week, there were still a couple of solo spots available before the solo limit of 30 teams was hit, and it looked like the field will see at least 11 voyageur canoe teams, which would equal the record for the big boat class. There is plenty of room for more tandem canoes and kayaks.
As of April 10, eight countries were represented in the field so far: Austria, Australia, Canada, Finland, France, Great Britain, Sweden and the United States. Registration information is available at www.yukonriverquest.com. They are processed through eventsonline.ca.
The 2011 race purse will total $36,500 (CAD) if the full roster of 100 teams is met. 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 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.
Like many great Yukon events, the River Quest could not happen without a tremendous volunteer effort from those in our river communities. Volunteers are needed to help in Whitehorse, Carmacks, Dawson and several checkpoints along the river. For those interested in volunteering, call the race office at 867-667-5628 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Check the Volunteer tab on the website to see where you could help.
The race is organized by the Yukon River Marathon Paddling Association, based in Whitehorse. Major logo-level sponsors on board for 2011 include the Whitehorse Star, Yukon Emergency Measures Organization — Whitehorse, Faro and Carmacks SAR, Kanoe People, Air North, yukoninfo.com, Pepsi–Aquafina, Norcan Rentals, Klondike Visitors Association, Up North Adventures, Northwestel, Yukon Brewing, and Gold Trail Jewellers.
Many small businesses also support the race by sponsoring bibs worn by paddlers. After their race is over, half of the signed bib is then given to the sponsor along with a photo certificate showing the paddler wearing your bib. Cost is $250 per paddler, $400 for a team of two, or $700 for a voyageur team of six or more paddlers. A downloadable bib form is available on the website and can also be obtained by calling the race office.