“Race to the Midnight Sun” is world’s longest annual paddling race, SUPs now an official class, stock C4 canoes will compete in voyageur class, new registration deadlines

WHITEHORSE, YUKON – Registrations will be accepted starting November 1, 2016 for the 19th annual Yukon River Quest which will be held June 28 to July 2, 2017

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 the world’s longest annual paddling race.  It is known as the “Race to the Midnight Sun,” as teams race round-the-clock under a sky that never gets dark. There are just two mandatory rest stops – totaling 10 hours – over the course of the entire event.

The Yukon River Quest has been named one of the ten toughest races in the world by renowned adventure racer and “Boundless” TV star Simon Donato, and is widely known as Canada’s toughest adventure race.

Online entry forms are available starting at midnight November 1 via a link on the race website www.yukonriverquest.com under the Register tab. Entry fees remain $850 (CAD) for tandem canoes and kayaks; $475 for solo canoes, kayaks and stand up paddleboards (SUP); and $250 per person for C4/voyageur canoe teams of four or more.

New as an official class this year are the SUPs, which proved themselves in 2016 as an unofficial class (nine of the 11 in the race finished). Also, four-person stock C4 canoes will be allowed to compete this year in the voyageur class.  
Registration deadlines also have changed. Early deadline for entries is May 15, 2017, but teams may be registered late for an extra $150 fee per boat after that date through June 15, 2017, the final deadline.

Teams are encouraged to register early due to the worldwide popularity of the event. There remains a limit of 100 vessels, which includes limits of 30 solo teams and 15 voyageur teams of five or more. These solo and voyageur teams should register immediately to reserve their slots. Paddlers should have race or wilderness paddling experience, and all vessels must meet specifications in the posted  2017 YRQ Rules .

Each team is required to have SPOT or similar tracking devices mounted on top of their vessel and activated for tracking before the team is officially registered. This requirement allows teams to be able to be tracked during the race from links on the Yukon River Quest website. It has been hugely popular with spectators all over the world. During 2015 and 2016, the race reach was more than 30,000 via Facebook.

The 2017 race purse will be $39,200 (CAD) if a full roster of 100 teams are registered by the June 15 deadline. Otherwise the purse is adjusted downward on a percentage basis. 

There are overall cash prizes for each class – tandem canoe, tandem kayak, solo canoes, kayaks and SUPs, and C4/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 also are donated by Yukon sponsors. A complete prize breakdown can be found in the race rules on the website.

The Yukon River Quest draws participants from all over the world. In 2016, a record 93 teams from 14 countries started the race and 77 teams finished, also the most ever.  First team in was the Ontario, Canada tandem canoe team “Perfect Storm,” paddled by Gaetan Plourde and Jeff Brainard, in 46 hours, 14 minutes, 56 seconds. Full results may be viewed on the race website, and it’s fun to go online and replay the past few races on the Race Tracker page.

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 Coffee Creek (3 hours), teams paddle non-stop to reach the “City of Gold”. 

The race is supported by more than 200 volunteers, and potential volunteers also are encouraged to sign up over the winter. Various volunteer opportunities are listed under the Volunteer page on the website.

The Yukon River Quest is the premier paddling event in Canada’s North and is widely recognized throughout the paddling and adventure racing world. It has been featured in numerous publications, online, and in shows on NBC-TV, the BBC, the CBC, and in the National Film Board of Canada’s critically acclaimed “River of Life” about Paddlers Abreast, a voyageur team of Yukon breast cancer survivors that races every year. Many other worthy causes have been represented as well.

For more information, view the pre-registration instructions, rules, and numerous paddler preparation links at www.yukonriverquest.com . For current news watch the site and the race’s Facebook page.

The race is organized by the Yukon River Marathon Paddling Association, based in Whitehorse, Yukon, Canada. Major logo-level sponsors in 2016 were Kaminak Gold Corporation, Whitehorse Star, Kanoe People, Air North, yukoninfo.com, Pepsi–Aquafina, Up North Adventures, Gold Trail Jewellers, City of Whitehorse, Superior Roofing & Renovation, CKRW-The Rush, MAKEIT (race tracker/registration software by Peter Coates), Yukon Civil Air Search & Rescue (CASARA), Yukon Wide Adventures, The Coal Mine Campground, and Fireweed Helicopters. Many small businesses also support the race by sponsoring paddler bibs – see details about sponsorship packages on the website sponsor page or contact the race office.

The YRMPA welcomes new members. The YRMPA Annual General Meeting will be held at Sport Yukon at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, December 15, 2016.  If anyone is interested in joining or becoming a volunteer for the event, please contact the race organization at info@yukonriverquest.com or call 867-333-5628.


Harry Kern, president: haywire6@icloud.com or 867-334-4701.

Jeff Brady, media relations: wjbradyak@me.com or 907-973-2354.