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CANOEISTS CAPTURE FIRST – Golden Lake Crew, Seb Courville, left and Jen Courville, paddle away from the start of the 2023 Yukon River Quest on July 4. The couple finished first in 46 hours, 17 minutes and 12 seconds.

Yukon River Quest registration to open soon

Registration for the 2024 Yukon River Quest (YRQ) will start on Nov. 15 at 2 p.m. Yukon time.

By Whitehorse Star on November 9, 2023

Registration for the 2024 Yukon River Quest (YRQ) will start on Nov. 15 at 2 p.m. Yukon time.

The YRQ will be held June 24-29.

The race start time is 9 a.m. on June 24 unless numbers and water levels necessitate a second start time.

The 715-kilometre (444-mile) race is run on the Yukon River from Whitehorse to Dawson City in the Yukon.

According to a YRQ press release, the race passes through the traditional lands of five Yukon First Nations and honours the cultures of those who have lived off the river and nurtured it for centuries.

The River Quest’s continued success depends on more than 125 dedicated volunteers who bring great skills and enthusiasm to the event.

The “Race to the Midnight Sun”, as the YRQ is known, is unique because teams race round-the-clock on a wilderness river and under a sky that never gets dark. The full race is all about endurance. Aside from 10 hours of mandatory layover time, teams paddle non-stop to reach Dawson City, the heart of the Klondike. The race is now a qualifier for participants in the Yukon 1000, which happens a few weeks later.

The YRQ also attracts a varied international field. To date, paddlers from 36 nations have been represented.

In recent years, more than 100 teams have registered, prompting race officials to adjust the total number allowed to 125 teams. Prior to the pandemic in 2019, the YRQ saw a record 117 teams start and 86 finish. After not having the race for a couple of years, it returned in 2022 on a fast and high river, resulting in a new course record of 39 hours, 18 minutes, 12 seconds by the Canadian C4 team “Something Else Entirely.”

In 2023, the race was moved into early July to avoid higher water levels. The 54 teams and 134 paddlers from 10 countries experienced record high temperatures of 30ºC and lower water levels that prevented any records from being broken.

The Golden Lake Crew, Seb and Jen Courville, from Golden Lake, Ontario, paddled across the finish line first in 46 hours, 17 minutes and 12 seconds.

According to YRQ officials, the 2024 snow pack this winter has been forecast to be low due to El Nino, hence the return to the first Wednesday after the summer solstice. Racers and volunteers indicated that they prefer the earlier start as well.

Organizers advise teams to register early to ensure a spot in the field and give paddlers plenty of time to train for one of the world’s toughest endurance races.

The entry fees for the YRQ are $400 per boat, plus $400 per paddler.

The prize money will total $64,000, provided a full field competes.

Paddlers are encouraged to provide their own support crews.

However, the YRQ has implemented a paid service to support teams at the mandatory 10-hour layover in Carmacks.

Tracking devices (SpotX and In Reach) are required.

More details will be available soon in the 2024 Rules on the website, https://www.yukonriverquest.com

The rules are posted in English, along with a Racer Guide and several preparation tips.

Racers are asked to watch for race updates in newsletters and on social media sites that are easily linked from the web page.

The coveted YRQ Finisher Pins will be awarded to those who finish the gruelling race.

Racers who log 5,000 and 10,000 kilometres gain entry into the "Great River Club."

The 2024 YRQ is organized by the Yukon Marathon Paddling Association.

– With files from the Yukon River Quest and Jeff Brady.

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