SPOT tracking mandatory as “Race to the Midnight Sun” enters 14th year

WHITEHORSE, YUKON – Registrations are now being accepted for the 14th annual Yukon River Quest which will be held June 27 to July 1, 2012.

The 715-kilometer (444-mile) wilderness adventure paddling race is held on the Yukon River from Whitehorse to Dawson City in Canada’s Yukon Territory. Held during the last week of June, the YRQ is known as the “Race to the Midnight Sun”. Paddlers race round-the-clock, as the sky never gets dark. It is a true marathon with just two mandatory rest stops of 10 hours over the course of the entire event.

Registration for the 2012 race opened on November 1, and already 10 teams had registered within the first 24 hours.

Online entry forms are available here. Entry fees remain $850 (CAD) for tandem canoes and kayaks, $475 for solo canoes and kayaks, and $250 per person for voyageur canoe teams of six or more paddlers.

Deadline for entries is May 15, 2012, but teams are encouraged to register early due to the worldwide popularity of the event. There is a limit of 100 canoe and kayak teams, which includes a limit of 30 solo teams. These solo teams should register immediately to reserve a slot. Paddlers should have race or wilderness paddling experience, and all boats must meet the specifications defined in the 2012 YRQ rules posted on the website.

One new rule is a requirement that all teams must have a SPOT device mounted on top of their boats and activated for tracking, which will allow teams to be able to be followed during the race from links on the Yukon River Quest website.

“We are introducing this technology into the rave to increase safety while decreasing the administration effort required in past years,” said race president Stephen Mooney. “Introduction of mandatory SPOTS will allow better tracking of the racers along the river and the ease of mind for family and friends to watch their progress through the internet.

“The new software along with the SPOT devices will allow people to experience the race online from around the world. Support crews and race volunteers will have estimated arrival times into Carmacks and Dawson which will ease the tension of ‘not knowing’ when teams arrive.”

The 2012 race purse will be $36,500 (CAD) if a full roster of 100 teams is registered by the May 15 deadline. Otherwise the purse is adjusted downward on a percentage basis.

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 $500 cash prizes for the top all-Yukon canoe and kayak teams, and the top First Nations team. Several special awards are also donated by Yukon sponsors. A complete prize breakdown can be found in the race rules on the website.

The Yukon River Quest remains a popular paddling event, even in uncertain economic times. After registrations reached record levels in 2008, they dropped somewhat the past few years, when between 70 and 80 teams started the race.

“Prize money will be increased if racer turnout is higher than last year,” Mooney noted.

In 2011, 72 teams from 10 countries started the race. Weather cooperated for the most part during the 13th annual YRQ, as 55 teams finished, which is about average. Lake Laberge threw its usual amount of wind at everyone but there were also some calm stretches mid-lake to give teams a break. From then on, it was easy paddling down to the first layover at Carmacks and beyond to Dawson City. The river was at its highest level of the summer, but not as high as in past years. There was very little rain, and other than a cool first night on the Thirtymile section, temperatures were warm from start to finish.

The Texans repeated as overall champions for the second straight year with a time of 42 hours, 17 minutes and were challenged for a time by the top mixed voyageur team from the Yukon, Sausages & Mussels, who set a new mixed record in 44:37. Just one other category record was broken, in solo canoe by Gaetan Plourde of Ontario, who knocked two hours off his 2010 time to finish in 48:28. The course record still belongs to Canadian voyageur Team Kisseynew’s winning time of 39:32:43 in 2008.

Teams must finish the YRQ in 55 hours to receive prize money, but many do the race for the personal satisfaction of staking their claim to a coveted finisher pin in historic Dawson City. Aside from two mandatory layovers at Carmacks (7 hours) and Kirkman Creek (3 hours), teams paddle non-stop to reach the “City of Gold”.  The race is supported by 200 volunteers.

The Yukon River Quest is the premier paddling event in Canada’s North and is widely recognized throughout the paddling world. It has been featured on NBC-TV, the BBC and CBC, in numerous paddling and adventure magazines and websites around the world, and in the National Film Board of Canada’s critically acclaimed “River of Life”.

For more information, view the pre-registration instructions, rules, and numerous paddler preparation links at . The race also has a Facebook page where registration numbers will be updated weekly.

The race is organized by the Yukon River Marathon Paddling Association, based in Whitehorse, Yukon, Canada. Major logo-level sponsors in 2011 were the Whitehorse Star, Yukon Emergency Measures Organization – Whitehorse, Faro and Carmacks SAR, Kanoe People, Air North,, Pepsi–Aquafina, NorthwesTel, Up North Adventures, and Gold Trail Jewellers. Many small businesses also support the race by sponsoring paddler bibs – see details on the website.

The YRMPA welcomes new members. The YRMPA Annual General Meeting will be held at Sport Yukon at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 10, 2011. If anyone is interested in joining or becoming a volunteer for the event, please contact the race organization at or call 867-333-5628.


Stephen Mooney, president, or 867-332-2800.

Jeff Brady, media relations or 907-973-2354