Heading into the 20th year, the Yukon River Quest plans to be bigger than ever.
The world’s longest annual paddling race will be increasing the team limit from 100 to 125, the Yukon River Marathon Paddlers Association announced in a press release Friday morning.
This is the first increase ever approved by the race organization due to spiked interest in the past two years with the addition of the stand up paddleboard and four-person canoe (C4) divisions.
Association president Roger Hanberg said this was the right year to increase the number of participants as a way to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the race.
“This last year’s race, registration filled to capacity before year end 2016,” Hanberg said in the release. “By allowing 25 more canoes or kayaks we hope to accommodate all the past and any new Yukon paddlers who missed the boat last year.”
Established in 1999, the 715-kilometre paddling race on the Yukon River will also see other firsts in this milestone race.
The C4 canoe category which was added in this summer’s race will now be moved into a separate open class after racing in the voyageur class.
This move will increase the available prize money for the event, the release said, from $39,200 up to $42,000 if 100 or more teams are registered by June 1, 2018.
The board also approved an increase in the limit for solo teams in the event from 35 to 40, while the voyageur limit remains at 15 teams.
In addition to the race expansions, celebrations are being planned in Whitehorse and Dawson City during the event, running June 27-July 1, to commemorate the 20th anniversary.
Hanberg said organizing these celebrations will require an increased number of volunteers.
“The continual devotion from our volunteers continues to make this amazing race thrive,” he said in the release. “We always need and welcome new volunteers, be it checkpoint volunteers on the river, pre-race registrars, start line traffic control, or a hundred other duties.”
Registration for the race opens Nov. 1.
The association will be holding their annual general meeting Dec. 14 at Sport Yukon and will be releasing more news about the 20th anniversary celebrations leading up to the race.