Pre-race tally has 96 teams from 13 countries entered in ‘Race to the Midnight Sun’.
The race roster is set for the 19th annual Yukon River Quest, which will begin on Wednesday, June 28 in Whitehorse, Yukon Territory, Canada. This year’s field, as of today’s date, will feature 96 teams with 234 paddlers from all over the world.
Thirteen countries are represented: Australia, Belgium, Canada (eight provinces/territories), France, Germany, Guernsey, Hong Kong, Japan, the Netherlands, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, the United States (16 states), and Togo.
This year there has been a significant increase in numbers. Registrations actually topped out at the limit of 100 teams back in late November. A few teams dropped before the end of the early registration period on May 15 and were filled from the wait list. A few more dropped in early June before the final registration deadline of June 15, leaving 96 teams as the official start figure. That’s the highest since the race began in 1999. The previous record was 94 registered teams set last year (93 started and a record 77 finished).
Race numbers for the past two years have been boosted by the addition of Stand Up Paddleboards. They were an experimental class in 2016, and proved their mettle, with 9 of 11 teams finishing. This year, SUPs will be an official class in the solo division, with 10 teams competing. Also new to the YRQ this year are four-person canoes (C4). Four of those teams will compete in the voyageur class.
Except for two mandatory rest stops totaling 10 hours, paddlers race non-stop over the 715 kilometers (444 miles) to Dawson City. Held annually in the north during the last week of June (around the summer solstice), it is a true ‘Race to the Midnight Sun’ where many of the world’s best paddlers gather.
Following the race is a lot of fun, whether you are watching from alongside the river or sitting at home. All teams are required to have activated SPOT or InReach tracking devices, which greatly aid those following the race on their computers or mobile devices. Just follow the Race Tracker link at http://www.yukonriverquest.com and also watch for updates and photos on the race’s Facebook and Instagram pages. You can even replay the race when it’s all over.
The total possible 2017 race purse will be $37,632 (CAD) based on the paid registration of 96 teams as of this week. 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 also are donated by Yukon and Alaska sponsors. But most of the paddlers are just aiming to get to Dawson and be awarded a coveted YRQ Finisher Pin and have some stories to share.
Speaking of river stories, next year will the 20th running of the Yukon River Quest, and the race organization is hoping to assemble many of those great stories on its website or in a book. Paddlers who have some great stories from their race experience should email them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Race contact: YRMPA President Roger Hanberg: mailto:email@example.com
Media passes/info: YRQ Media Director Jeff Brady: firstname.lastname@example.org