Part of the adventure will be just getting to the Yukon. It is about 3300 miles (or 56 hours driving time) from our homes in northeast Ohio! The map at the left shows the Yukon's proximity to Alaska.
The YRQ is held near the date of the Summer Solstice. Dawson City -- the ending point of the race -- is located less than 200 miles from the Arctic Circle. Part of the reason this round-the-clock race is feasible is the "Midnight Sun" at this time of year and this far north on the Earth will keep the amount of "daylight" through the night similar to dusk in northeast Ohio.
Daytime temperatures during the race could reach as high as the seventies. However, it is not unusual for nighttime temperatures to dip below freezing!
The Yukon River has always played a significant role in the history of North America. It is believed to be
the main route humans first used to migrate from Asia into North America. It was the main transportation route during the "Gold Rush" years in the 1800's. The third longest river in North America, the Yukon's origin is believed to be the Llewellyn Glacier in British Columbia.
The Yukon will play a significant role in our lives for the next several months as we train and attempt to complete the longest canoe river race we have ever tried!!
Erin and Kevin paddling in the Lake Metroparks "Madhatters" Canoe & Kayak Race
on the Grand River in Ashtabula and Lake Counties in northeast Ohio. This was their
first FIRST PLACE finish as a paddling team.
The YRQ is the premier paddling event in Canada's North and is widely recognized throughout the paddling world. It has been featured on NBC-TV, the BBC, and CBC, in numerous paddling and adventure magazines and websites around the world. The race is organized by the Yukon River Marathon Paddling Association, based in Whitehorse, Yukon, Canada.
Based on the Klondike Gold Rush of the late 1800's when prospectors used the Yukon as a main route to the gold, this race began as a two-week running and paddling event during the Klondike Gold Rush Centennial celebration in 1997-98. Racers ran 33-miles over the Chilkoot Pass and paddled one hundred miles through headwater lakes to the Yukon River in Whitehorse. Then, a 460-mile paddle to Dawson City completed the race. In 1999, the race was "shortened" to just the the three/four day, 460-mile stretch from Whitehorse to Dawson City.
The race is broken into three parts with mandatory rest/sleep stops separating the legs. The first stop is a seven-hour sleep stop after about twenty-four hours and 200 miles of paddling (from Whitehorse to Carmacks). Sleep Stop #2 is only three-hours long after paddling about 160 miles (from Carmacks to Kirkman Creek) and is about one hundred miles shy of the finish in Dawson City.
The river is wide and has a steady current. A thirty-mile long lake, Lake LaBarge -- which can be calm or stirred up with up to five-foot waves -- is encountered early in the race. A few rapids will be encountered, but the biggest challenge to racers will be the tricky currents in the glacier-fed Yukon, as well as staying awake and paddling for almost three-and-a-half days with the possibility of dealing with inclement weather, moose and grizzlies!!
Racers from all over the world have participated in the YRQ. This year, teams from Great Britain, Austria, Australia, the US, Canada, France, Finland, the Jersey Channel Islands and South Africa (and Montville, Ohio!) have already registered to participate. Solo-paddlers, tandem teams, and "voyageur" teams (consisting of six or more people in one HUGE canoe) compete for monetary prizes or just for the accomplishment of finishing this ultra marathon canoe race!