“Race to the Midnight Sun”

World’s Longest Annual Paddling Race – 715 km / 444 miles from Whitehorse to Dawson City, Yukon Registration open for August 14-16 ‘Race to the Klondyke’ from Carmacks to Dawson • the 2021 YRQ was cancelled in June due to Flooding (see statements below)

Dedicated to the memory of Ingrid Wilcox – Paddle On!

Ingrid’s favorite race photo of her paddling in 2011 with a lake sunset, image by Harry Kern

Welcome to the official Yukon River Quest web site. The Yukon River Quest is an annual marathon paddling race. Paddlers come from around the world to test their endurance, racing day and night to the Klondike on one of North America’s great rivers. It is open to solo and tandem canoes and kayaks, solo stand-up paddle boards (SUP0, and bigger C4 and Voyageur canoes. Please fully explore our site for information on how to participate in this great event, whether as a racer, a member of a support crew, or as a volunteer. The Yukon River passes through Five First Nations on our race route: Kwanlin Dun, Ta’an Kwachan Council, Little Salmon/Carmacks, Selkirk, and Trondek Hwechin. Our race honours their culture and those who have lived off the river and nurtured it for centuries. For an in-depth account of Yukon First Peoples, read this ECHO (Ethnographic, Cultural, Historical Overview) handbook.

AUGUST ‘RACE TO THE KLONDYKE’ registration now open (July 14) for this half race from Carmacks to Dawson Aug. 14-16. This will be a different kind of race, unsupported for the most part, with a required evening stop of 8 hours for darkness. Read the Press Release for more info, and check out the Rules before you Register. Currently only Canadian teams accepted due to COVID travel restrictions. Cutoff will be at 50 teams but we will start a wait list after that.

The Board met late on June 23 to talk about what comes next. For all teams that were registered to race as of Monday night, you can choose one of the following: 1) Entry into the 2022 race; or 2) A refund in an amount to be determined once we’ve resolved our costs for this year and the race’s financial situation. It may take us a week to get all the costs gathered and the refund amount determined. We’ll contact you via email with the refund amount. At that time you can let us know which option you would like to choose. The Board is also actively considering some type of shorter event later in the season, once COVID and water levels have settled down. We will be meeting later to discuss the options, once we have sorted out the logistics from the cancellation. To our volunteers: we are grateful for your continued support of our race. We couldn’t do it without you. Many thanks for your willingness to give us your time and talent for the 2021 race, and we look forward to seeing you in 2022.

June 22, 2021 Statement by the YRMPA: “The Board of the Yukon River Quest is very disappointed to announce that the 2021 race is CANCELLED. The recent 100-year flood levels along the Yukon River make it impossible for us to offer a reasonable level of safety to our racers and volunteers.
“Race officials spoke with Yukon government officials after the new flood warning was issued earlier today. While only days ago the water was thought to be cresting in Carmacks, recent warm temperatures and rain are causing water levels to rise and continue rising.
“Long-time Race Marshal Roger Hanberg has not seen this many issues with river and race safety before. ‘We have to consider the safety of our racers and also our volunteers. We have people at remote checkpoints and very close to a river in flood. It isn’t safe for us to continue.’
“Race officials had concerns with water volumes, especially from the Teslin downstream, and the lack of pull-out spots for racers who need rest or get into difficulty. Several checkpoints had already been moved and some may not have been viable at all with the continued rising water.
“YRQ Board President Peter Coates said, ‘We’ve overcome a lot this year to put on this race, but this was one hurdle too many. A temporary postponement is not a viable option. We are very disappointed to have to make this decision. People have trained hard, and travelled and quarantined in some cases. We were looking forward to a new race record. But faced with 100-year flood levels, and the water still rising, it is the responsible thing to do for racers and volunteers.’
“Today’s flood warnings can be found here:
“Race officials will be at the start line tomorrow morning to talk to racers. Thank you to everyone who put in time to try to make the race happen in a difficult year, on the water and off – we value the YRQ community so much.”
Media contact: Eva Holland
Race Marshal: Roger Hanberg
YRMPA President: Peter Coates
June 22 revised team breakdown:  42 teams fully registered:
Full race (39) – C4: 1 women’s, 4 men’s; C1: 1 women’s, 1 men’s; K1: 2 women’s, 5 men’s; SUP: 3 men’s; C2: 8 mixed, 8 men’s; K2: 0; VC: 3 women’s, 2 mixed, 1 men’s.

Half race (3) – K1: 1 women’s;  C2: 1 mixed, K2: 1 mixed. View registered team bios in RACER LIST . 

Check out the RACE SCHEDULE (updated 6/17/21).

June 21, 2021: Message from the Race Marshal, Roger Hanberg: “We understand that some of you are concerned about water levels. Yes, they are higher than usual for this time of year in some spots. There will be more debris on parts of the river to watch out for, and some of our checkpoints may need to move to other spots. They will still be visible, though possibly not where we originally thought. Be alert and prepared to follow instructions from the volunteers and your support crew as you arrive. In years with higher water, Five Finger Rapids can be easier to run or harder to run. We have reports of higher waves there right now. Please use caution. Look at the recommendations on the website. We strongly advise that only one boat go through the rapids at a time. If you do dump at Five Finger, there are safety boats stationed close by. This is also a short rapid with no rocks to worry about. Your swim, if any, would be short. As always, make sure all your gear is properly secured. We are aiming to get a power boat to scout Five Finger prior to Thursday. If we can arrange that, we will post information at Carmacks, which your support crew can share with you. We are told that the water from the Teslin to Carmacks is cresting right now. It should not go up anymore and may well drop slightly between now and early Thursday. On the plus side, watching out for sand bars will be much less of a problem! As with any wilderness paddling experience, you should assess your skill and comfort level prior to the trip. If you decide you do not wish to paddle past Carmacks, you can finish the race there and receive a half-race certificate, finisher’s pin and official time. Just tell us when you get to Carmacks if you do not intend to continue the full race. Every year this race has challenges. The weather can be very hot or very cold or very wet, or all three. The lake can be terrible. There can be storms, or forest fire smoke. Consider all of this and make the decision that is right for your team. Have a great race!”

June 17, 2021: Statement on the current COVID situation in the Yukon as it relates to the upcoming race: “The YRQ is aware that the Yukon has an uprising of COVID cases and some have expressed concerns about the upcoming race. We value these concerns and our strong relationships in the Yukon. As such, we brought these concerns to the Chief Medical Officer of Health and his team for review of the event and our COVID plan. At this time, the YRQ is still supported as it is a LOW RISK event and we have an adequate plan in place. To reemphasize an aspect of our plan which is the importance being able to adapt to changing situations – we ask that paddlers and their support be respectful of locals while in Carmacks, Minto and Dawson, keeping the safe six, and avoiding congregating in areas such as a local stores or places where there is lots of foot traffic, etc. We are also going to cancel our outdoor awards ceremony in Dawson on Sunday, June 27, and ask our paddlers and their support to leave Dawson after completion of their race as soon as possible (after they have rested and are safe to do so). Thank you and stay safe everyone.” – YRMPA Board
Check out the annual YRQ Supplement in the June 18 Whitehorse Star. A pre-race PRESS RELEASE was posted earlier this month.  In addition, the 2021 Racer & Support Crew Briefing is available to download on the Racer Briefing and Support Crew pages.
After not having a race in 2020, we announced that we would have a 2021 event and registration began on February 14. Regrettably, due to COVID-19 health mandates and travel restrictions, we could accept only Canadian teams for the 2021 race field.  We have a COVID plan approved by Yukon Health officials to run a safe race. There also will be a new Half Quest this year from Whitehorse to Carmacks. 

CURRENT COVID HEALTH & TRAVEL MANDATES:  Check them often as they can change weekly. As of May 25th, non-Yukon Canadian paddlers and support crews that are FULLY VACCINATED will not have to isolate for 14 days upon arrival. If you cannot show proof of vaccination 14 days before your arrival, you will be required to self-isolate for 14 days. See details and updates in the Yukon health link below.

YUKON: https://yukon.ca/en/covid-19-information

 CANADA: https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/diseases/coronavirus-disease-covid-19.html

BE PREPARED – THIS IS A TOUGH WILDERNESS PADDLING RACE! READ RULES & RACER GUIDE: Become familiar with the full YRQ RULES. and the new HALF QUEST RULES. Note: These COVID Rules are subject to change as we get closer to the race. Read the Preamble about what you will experience out there, and how to prepare for this tough wilderness race.  Also check out the new RACER GUIDE and various items under the RULES & PREPARATION drop-down menu above, such as following best practices on the river and while camping, how much food and fluids are needed to sustain you in a long river race, and other essential tips to help you finish; racer and support crew briefings (they will be updated in spring); and our FAQs to learn more about navigation, insurance requirements, support at Carmacks, how to get back from Dawson, and more. Support crews need to become familiar with all of this information to help your team prepare and stay safe! Check out the SUPPORT link above.

PREVIOUS RACE REVIEW: RECORD FIELD IN 2019! – A record 117 teams started the 21st annual YRQ at noon on Wednesday, June 26, and 86 teams finished by 9 p.m. on Saturday, June 30.  A total of 31 teams (26.5%) scratched during the race (an additional team withdrew just before the start). Most of the scratches were in Carmacks, as several teams were fatigued and/or unable to make the cutoff time there on the evening of June 27. Only 3 teams scratched past Carmacks. Thirteen countries were represented: Canada, USA, New Zealand, Australia, Netherlands, Norway (new), United Kingdom, Switzerland, Germany, Papua New Guinea (new), France, Austria, and Ireland. Pull up 2019 Results and replay the race on our RACE TRACKER page, courtesy of Yukon 1000 Software, and see photos in our GALLERY and posted on our YRQ FACEBOOK and INSTAGRAM pages. Read our AWARDS PRESS RELEASE.  There was no race in 2020 due to COVID.

VOLUNTEERS – LIFEBLOOD OF THE YRQ:   This race does not happen without our great volunteers, nearly 200 of them! Want to get involved for the 2021 race? Sign in on our new VOLUNTEER page and then view the different jobs available. It’s never too early or too late to volunteer, and it’s fun!  If you do enough time with us, you will get a shirt, and see your name in a big THANK YOU AD in the Whitehorse Star later this summer. And PLEASE THANK OUR VOLUNTEERS WHEN YOU SEE THEM. THEY ARE THERE TO HELP!

THANKS TO OUR SPONSORS – SUPPORT THE YRQ:  We have a lot of great sponsors who help us immensely in making this a great race. Please view our SPONSOR PAGE for a list of everyone big and small, including this past year’s BIB SPONSORS!  We have several sponsorship levels to show your support for the race. Our Sponsorship packet and provisions are currently under revision and should be available some time this winter.

BECOME A MEMBER OF YRMPA: Join the Yukon River Marathon Paddlers Association for just $20 a year (adults) or $10 a year (juniors 18 & under) by clicking on the Membership photo button above. Email the race office for details or attend our next AGM and consider joining the YRMPA Board to help us plan the race. Meetings are monthly most of the year, and more frequent the two months before the race. See our current board & executive and read our new Vision, Values and Mission statements on our ABOUT US page. 

YRMPA BOARD NEWS:  Our AGM was December 10, 2020 (see report below).  UPCOMING MEETINGS (via Zoom):  Board Meeting August 18 at 5:30 PM.

AGM REPORT: NEW BOARD ELECTED – Our AGM was December 10, 2020 via Zoom. More than 20 members were present via Zoom to approve a new set of Bylaws per updates required of all Yukon Societies this year, including the elimination of life memberships unfortunately (the board will notify previous ‘lifers’ re. how we will pro-rate their membership). The membership elected the following slate of 10 directors: Al Foster, Jeff Brady, Peter Coates, Spencer Edelman, Lidwein Hanrath, Deb Bartlette, Stephen Mooney, Anne Jessup, Christa Van Laerhoven, and Stan Fordyce. The year-end financial report was approved accounting for a move of registration income to the 2021 year since there was no race in 2020, and Coates gave a detailed president’s report on the state of the event and plans for next year (hopefully with COVID in the backwash, but we will be ready to deal with whatever its presence requires). Following the AGM, there was a brief regular board meeting to select the executive, which will remain the same four board members to maintain a smooth transition in this unusual year. Coates will serve a third year as President, and Hanreth will again be Treasurer. Switching offices are Edelman who will be the new Vice President and Bartlette who will be the new Secretary.

If you have questions for the board, email info@yukonriverquest.com. 

August ‘Race to the Klondyke’ registration opens today

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