Adventurous Southeast paddlers are invited to register for the sixth annual Yukon River Quest, a 460-mile canoe and kayak river race that begins on Wednesday, June 23, in Whitehorse, Yukon Territory.
The race, with nearly $15,000 (Canadian) in prize money, follows the Yukon River from Whitehorse to Dawson City. There are four vessel categories - solo kayak, tandem kayak, tandem canoe and voyager canoe. The overall top team will win $3,000, and the rest of the top 10 will also receive prize money. Bonuses will go to the top women's, mixed and senior entries.
The registration deadline is May 26. Entry forms and additional information can be accessed at the race Web site, www.yukonriverquest.com. Race officials are also seeking volunteers for the Whitehorse start, Carmacks checkpoint and Dawson City finish. Interested individuals can call the race office at 1-867-333-5628.
Sixteen teams have already signed up for this year's race. The geographically diverse field includes teams from Anchorage, the Yukon, British Columbia, Ontario, Quebec, New York, California and England.
The Yukon River Quest started with 16 teams in 1999, and was held in conjunction with the Klondike Gold Rush centennial. More than 30 teams competed last year, and officials hope to have more than 40 entries this year. The race is organized by the Yukon River Marathon Paddling Association.
The race begins with a mass start in downtown Whitehorse, where competitors run down Main Street to their canoes or kayaks waiting at the river's edge. There is a seven-hour layover at Carmacks and - new to the race this year - a three-hour layover at the Kirkman Creek checkpoint, just before the final push to Dawson City.
The race record - not including layovers - is 44 hours, 9 minutes. Most teams cover the course in 55 to 70 hours. The first teams are expected to arrive in Dawson City in the late afternoon or early evening hours of Friday, June 25.