John O'Daniel and Dave Brena of Skagway paddle on Lake Laberge during the 2003 River Quest. A sore shoulder forced them to scratch at Carmacks, but O'Daniel plans to return for his third straight race this year with his sister Kathy. JB
Sixth annual Yukon River Quest entry deadline is May 26
WHITEHORSE, YUKON Nearly $15,000 (Cdn.) in prize money will be up for grabs in the longest annual canoe and kayak race in the world, the Yukon River Quest, which will have its sixth running in late June.
Under a new prize structure, the top 10 teams overall will receive prize money, and cash bonuses also will be awarded in several categories. The first place team will receive $3,000 plus entry in the 2005 race to defend their title. Boats are divided into these classes: tandem canoe and kayak, voyager canoe, and solo kayak, and there are bonuses for top mixed, womens, and senior entries as well.
The 460-mile (740 kilometers) paddling marathon is held on the Yukon River from Whitehorse to Dawson City in Canadas Yukon Territory. The race begins with a Le Mans style start in downtown Whitehorse at 12:30 p.m. on Wednesday, June 23.
The race record in elapsed time on the river is 44 hours, nine minutes, but most teams average between 55 and 70 hours. This does not include 10 hours of layovers at Carmacks (7 hours) and a new Kirkman Creek checkpoint (3 hours), which has been added at the request of racers this year for extra rest time before the final stretch. The first teams are expected to arrive in Dawson during the late afternoon or early evening of Friday, June 25.
The Yukon River Quest grew out of the gold rush centennial Dyea to Dawson races and has increased in popularity each year, from 16 teams in 1999 to more than 30 teams in each of the last two years. Organizers expect to reach the 40-team mark this year, and are actively soliciting teams in Alaska and the Yukon, as well as internationally through paddling magazines, canoe and kayak clubs, and the races Web site, www.yukonriverquest.com. Race brochures are available at outdoor stores in many northern communities.
As of mid-April, 20 teams had already registered, including entries from the Yukon, Alaska, British Columbia, Ontario, Quebec, New York, Michigan, California, and England. This years race has already drawn media attention from the BBC and Explorer Magazine.
Entry forms and other information, from race rules to prize breakdowns per category, can be downloaded off the Web site. Deadline for entries is May 26.
Whitehorse E.M.O. and Canadian Rangers from several Yukon communities will assist the race safety crews again this year, from Lake Laberge all the way to Dawson.
Official sponsors include: The Whitehorse Star, Acuvue Contact Lenses, Up North Adventures-Wenonah Canoe, PR Services-yukoninfo.com, Integraphics, City of Whitehorse, and Norcan Leasing.
The race is organized by the Yukon River Marathon Paddling Association, based in Whitehorse. Volunteers will be needed this year in Whitehorse, Carmacks and Dawson City. To sign up, contact the race office at 867-333-5628 (33FLOAT) or Alaska rep. Jeff Brady in Skagway at 983-2515.