The Yukon River Quest is Canada’s longest canoe race, starting in Whitehorse and continuing 715 km to Dawson City.
The event was founded in 1999 by Whitehorse canoeists who felt it would be great to stage a canoe marathon. Participants wanting to take part in the event must be able to complete the race in under 85 hours, bring basic survival supplies, and obey all stated rules and criteria in order to qualify for the event.
Ragnar Robinson, one of the two men from La Ronge that took part in this year’s event, said that participants in the race must take a mandatory ten-hour break halfway through the race.
“Paddlers paddle halfway, then they get a mandatory ten-hour rest, and then they continue paddling, and it usually takes people anywhere from 50 to 70 hours to complete the race; it’s all downriver on the Yukon River, so you get a lot of help from the current,” said Robinson. “Me and my friend Scott are mostly into cross-country skiing, so being able to do that in the winter time just generally prepares you for doing endurance events. We each live in different towns; I’m in La Ronge and he’s in Regina, so we mostly just paddled on our own, and the normal paddle was probably only 1-2 hours. We also did a canoe trip for 3 days around the Nemeiben area, and that got us used to paddling for long periods of time, like 12 hours at a time, so that was our general preparation, and it seemed to work okay, but nothing quite prepares you for paddling for 48 hours.”
Robinson, along with his teammate Scott Fraser, had received lots of community support prior to taking part in this year’s event, such as two $500 checks to aid in entering the event from the Pimiskatan Canoe Club as well as being gifted a canoe built by Martin Bernardin of La Ronge’s Kisseynew Canoe Company, which they used in this year’s event.
This year’s Yukon River Quest canoe race saw 44 of 54 teams make it to the finish line.
(Photo courtesy of the Yukon River Quest.)