“Race to the Midnight Sun”
World’s Toughest and Alluring Marathon Paddling Race – 715 km / 444 miles from Whitehorse to Dawson City, Yukon 2023 Yukon River Quest: July 4-7. Registration opens Nov. 14, 21 & 28, 2022
Photo: Mark Kelly Photography
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 (SUPs, 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. To learn more about First Nations heritage on the river, see this River History from Yukon Schools. And for an in-depth account of Yukon First Peoples, read this ECHO (Ethnographic, Cultural, Historical Overview) handbook.
2023 RACE DATES: July 4-7, 2023. Registration process begins mid-November! – The YRMPA Board has moved the opening of registration back to November for the 2023 race. Registration will open on these dates at 14:00 Whitehorse Time for the following classes: Nov. 14 (voyageurs and C4 canoes), Nov. 21 (tandem canoe and kayaks), Nov. 28 (solo kayaks, canoes, SUP). The following limits have been set for the 2023 races: Main YRQ – 125 teams total, 15 voyageurs, 60 solos; YRQ 300 (half race to Carmacks) – 25 teams total. Click HERE to get to the Registration page and watch for more details in rules when they are posted.
The YRMPA Board on Oct. 3 issued the following statement explaining the moving of the race date from mid-June to early July:
We’ve had a few questions from racers wondering why we changed the race date. Several factors were part of this decision: racers, changing weather patterns here, and, very importantly, the needs of the communities we work with along the route.
The weather patterns are changing: we are getting more precipitation in general and more snow in particular. This doesn’t mean that every year will be high water. It does mean that high precipitation years are more common. There have been two 100-year flood situations in the last two years. The same weather pattern of the last two years is predicted again for the upcoming winter and spring.
For our own planning, and yours as racers, we need to do what we can to lower the uncertainty/risk for the race. Historic water flow data shows water levels stabilizing or dropping by mid-late June. Pushing the race date out, based on historic flow data, increases our chances of avoiding flooding situations.
Race date considerations must include our local communities. Communities along the river, particularly Carmacks, and to a lesser extent, Dawson, have significant flooding risks. Should a community or First Nation government say to us “please don’t come, we’re busy with flooding” or be evacuated by emergency officials, we could not proceed with the race. Dawson hoteliers have also asked us to avoid being there the July 1 weekend if possible, as they are already short of rooms then.
Lastly, over the years, we have had requests to move to a date after the K-12 school system is out for the summer. A later start does this. There is still ‘midnight sun’ with a July 4 start.
As a Board, we make changes to the race in an effort to improve the event for everyone involved. A change in start date to a time when water levels are less volatile helps all of us. — YRMPA
BE PREPARED – THIS IS A TOUGH WILDERNESS PADDLING RACE! READ RULES & RACER GUIDE: Become familiar with the YRQ RULES (2023 now posted). Read the Preamble about what you will experience out there, and how to prepare for this tough wilderness race. Also check out the 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; and our FAQs to learn more about navigation, insurance requirements, how to support your team 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 CREWS link above.
CURRENT COVID HEALTH & TRAVEL MANDATES: Check often!
VOLUNTEERS – LIFEBLOOD OF THE YRQ: This race does not happen without our great volunteers, nearly 200 of them! Want to get involved for the 2023 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 our big THANK YOU AD (2022 now posted) in the Whitehorse Star. 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.
WHAT AN EPIC 2022 RACE! – That was a very fast river, eh! The course record and several other class RECORDS were broken despite head winds on the lake, several swims in the river (rapids were approaching Class 4), and a variety of wind and rain storms. Of the 105 teams that started the race, 62 teams finished the full YRQ, and 5 finished the new Half Quest. Our safety boat crews on the river and volunteers on shore worked overtime to make sure everyone survived (there were some close calls), along with the valuable help of paddlers out there and their support teams. Link to complete Results under the 2022 Race Tracker above, check out these great photos from Mark Kelly Photography, and keep tabs on our Facebook and Instagram accounts for more stories. Congrats to everyone involved in helping getting the Yukon River Quest back on the river in 2022!
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 on the 3rd Wednesday of the month, and more frequently the two months before the race.
See our current board & executive and read our Vision, Values and Mission statements on our ABOUT US page, including a report on our 2023 AGM which was held on Dec. 7, 2022.