DAWSON CITY - Mike Vincent and Ivan English, rowing as #wepaddletogether, were the first team into Dawson on Friday, June 28 at just under 45 hours total time. The Tandem canoe duo from Saskatchewan was actually a bit surprised to have managed to hold on to their lead right to the end. They were being chased by several six man voyageur crews and Vincent, who last ran this race with his wife around 2003, says it’s rare for a two person crew to be able to beat a six-person crew.
Vincent and English had managed to pick up a substantial lead while crossing Lake Laberge where their smaller craft was not as affected by the rough water, but they had watched it shrinking steadily along most of the rest of the trip and were pleased that they still had almost a 10-minute lead at the end.
They estimate that the larger teams had been gaining about two minutes on them every hour.
Vincent recalls his first run was actually harder than this one. He recollects that the water was actually lower than this that year, but mostly he found that the addition of a short stop at Coffee Creek turned out to be a really good idea. He says it allowed him and English to get a breather, and refocus their efforts toward the 10-hour stretch.
“For us, our mental acuity was so much better after that stop,” he said. “It was better for safety.”
English agreed, saying he was “just about passed out” at that point.
There are often stories about people seeing and hearing things on this trip as they get more and more exhausted.
Vincent says they thought they saw some people on some rocks at one point, but since they both saw the same thing at the same time, it wasn’t a hallucination. It changed shape as they drew near and passed it, so it was just a trick of light and shadow.
Vincent says he would not likely do this race two years in a row,
There are a lot of good races that are less trouble to get to.
“On the other hand, I swore I’d never do it again after the first time, and here I am.”
He and English live about two and a half hours apart and get together to paddle when they can arrange it. English’s background was more in sprint racing, so Vincent has been his mentor in this form.