Sunday brought the entire group of racers and support crews together for the last time for a dinner and the presentation of awards. The Marauders were recognized for their charity efforts in raising money for the Bonnie Schindler Fund and for finishing the race in 6th place in their division. The host of the awards was a man named Jean Francois and he was absolutely hilarious. I wanted to take him home with us. This really has been a great experience. Everyone was incredibly nice to each other and you felt a real kinship with the other racers and crews. People kept asking Kevin and Erin if they were coming back to race again. I said it was like asking a lady who had just given birth if she wanted to have another kid. . . . . give them a few days for their paddling muscles to get back to normal before they decide. Jean Francois said that the weather conditions for this year's race were some of the worst ever and more teams than usual dropped out of the race than ever before. This makes the Marauders accomplishment all the more fantastic!! All the training and planning certainly paid off and their completion of the YRQ is impressive!!
WoooooHoooooo!! The Marauders completed the entire Yukon River Quest . . . . all 460n miles of it!!! WooooooHooooooo!!!!! They crossed the finish line at about 3:11pm . . . . sixty-some hours after starting and finishing around in the middle of the pack that started the race!!! Happy times and quite a sense of accomplishment. Weirdly enough . . . . . the boat that Erin and Kevin most traveled with on the river were the father/son/husband of the Support Crew that Debbie most hung with in the support camps . . . . . unbeknownst to any of them. Weird or what??? Anyway . . . . . mission accomplished and on to the next adventure!!! YRQ parties tomorrow!!!
For a full year, everything we read about "Five Fingers Rapids" made us worry if the Marauders could handle it while being sleep deprived. Well . . . when the big day finally arrived, we see that the size of these rapids was greatly exaggerated and the Marauders could have (and very well may have) shot through them in their sleep!!
The Marauders arrived in Carmacks -- their seven hour sleep stop -- around 6pm on Thursday . . . . approximately 30.5 hours after they left Whitehorse. They survived Lake LeBarge . . . with waves kicking up to three and four feet . . . and a late afternoon thunderstorm just before Carmacks and arrived smiling and still speaking to each other. Kevin said his back was sore but thought he could finish the race after a rest. Erin was in great spirits. Just paddling this far is such an accomplishment . . . . nine boats have scratched out of the race already and the Marauders are still going strong! They leave tonight at 2am to begin the second half of the race to Dawson City.
The sun broke out this afternoon and the Marauders are just about to their seven-hour rest stop. Lake LaBerge was pretty rough. One tandem kayak group helped with a rescue of a mixed-canoe team. The canoe-team lost most of their gear when their boat flipped and the lady-paddler panicked and nearly pulled her rescuers into the 4-to 5-foot waves. Luckily, the Marauders got through the lake without incident. The Marauders are still strong and in good spirits. Or delirious. In either case, they were smiling and making jokes when we saw them at Checkpoint #4. Support Crew Marauders had to take a hypothermic kayaker back to base camp after Checkpoint #4. Many teams have scratched already. We were worried about Kevin and Erin when their spot checker device stopped spotting after 24-hours. Who knows why? Anyway . . . they are OK . . . upright . . . dry . . . still paddling . . . and the sun is shining. What more can you ask for?
The leader of the Yukon province started the race. Then, all racers ran about a quarter-mile to their boats, jumped in and shoved off. It was crazy to see people running to gain a few minutes in a 60-hour canoe race!!! The Marauders were psyched and began the race with smiles on their faces. We connected with them again about twenty miles down the river as they passed a place where the road and the river were in close proximity. We yelled a "hey ho" and they went on their way. Looks like fun, no??
Well . . . . occasionally, the weather forecasters are right--damn it! It rained all night. It rained all morning. It rained all afternoon. It REALLY rained in the late afternoon. It rained a little in the early evening. Apparently, the Yukon needs the rain. Is there any reason it couldn't have held off for a few days? It was even miserable being the support team (I know you all feel badly for Jayson and me!). The Marauders have been slogging along. As I write this, they are almost at the end of Lake LeBerge. According to all the experienced people, if they finish the lake, they will finish the race. We're hoping!!
Interesting side note: We started talking to this guy from Alaska about the Gulf oil spill. Some guy with a British accent joined our table and started explaining why BP has had a hard time stopping the leak. I think this is that Harwood guy that BP fired and he's in the Yukon trying to hide from all the environmentalist who want to kill him. I'm sure of it.
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