Race to the Midnight Sun: Yukon River Quest – a 444 mile endurance race -kicks off this week!

Yukon River Yukon River Quest draft train Harry Ker Quest draft train Harry K
A draft train of paddlers work together to make their way up the Yukon River. Photo by: Harry Kern
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A tale of ultimate adventure: Endurance, resilience, love of water and wildlife.  That is the Yukon River Quest.  This 444 mile journey through the Yukon Territories, via kayak, canoe, and now, standup paddleboards takes place this weekend with racers coming from all over the globe to test their mettle against the best water adventure athletes in the world.  Here is Standup Journal photographer, Chris Christie’s exclusive video on his preparations for this ultimate adventure.

Yukon River Quest:  a fabled ride

The Yukon River Quest, one of the most highly anticipated adventure paddles in the world, kicks off this Wednesday, June 28th and runs throughout the weekend until July 2nd.  This 715 KM (444 miles) endurance paddle launches from Whitehorse and travels to Dawson City through the Yukon Territories on one of the most fabled rivers of time.

Yukon River Quest map of course
A map of the Yukon River Quest course including check points where paddlers must stop in to verify their safety, pick up necessary supplies and carry on. Photo by: Harry Kern

Watercraft and paddlers from around the globe to compete in this ultimate paddler’s endurance race

Paddlers come from around the world to test their strength as they race both day and night through the heart of the Klondike on one of North America’s great rivers.  This race is open to solo and tandem canoes and kayaks, solo standup paddleboarders, and C4 and Voyageur Canoes.  Paddlers use strategy, strength and skill to navigate the Yukon River’s waters, racing day and night to get to the final check point in Dawson City.

Yukon River Quest Starboard
Pulling in to pause.  A rest stop for the weary along the Yukon.  Photo by Harry Kern

The Yukon River:  points along the journey to Dawson City

Lake Laberge is the most dangerous point on the journey because strong wind and large waves can whip up in a matter of minutes.  It is rare that the lake will be dead calm for the entire 30 miles (50 Km.) of its length. Winds can come from either direction, but usually from the south, creating steady rollers that hit a paddler at an angle, roll a kayak or knock a standup paddleboarder off his or her craft.  Safety information on running this section of the race as well as safety crafts are stationed at the most hazardous areas, but paddlers must enter at their own risk.

Yukon River Quest Starboard Bart de Zwart photo Harry Kern
Starboard endurance athlete Bart de Zwart navigates some tricky waters carrying a full load on his Starboard All-Star in last year’s race. Photo by: Harry Kern

Wildlife in the Yukon

Traveling through bear and moose territories, paddlers have to beware the fact that they are entering into a wildlife arena.  Suggestions include staying away from streams where bears may stop and drink and, if one does have to pause near the woods for ANY reason, to make one’s presence known by making a lot of noise to ward off larger creatures of the Yukon.  Bear spray is permitted but not encouraged, as it is after all, their territory that the paddlers have entered into.

Yukon River Quest landscape photo Harry Kern
A river runs through it: an iconic landscape along one of the world’s most fabled rivers, the Yukon. A female solo paddler takes in the vista. Photo by: Harry Kern

715 KM in 4 days!

There are campgrounds and check points along the route for paddlers to stop and receive additional supplies, set up camp and get some sleep when necessary.  However, the first man, woman and/or team to cross the finish line wins.  So, sleep is a precious commodity and one that few travelers will partake in until their journey is complete.

Yukon River Quest solo paddler
Tired and weary, paddlers arrive in Dawson City – 444 miles from their starting point in Whitehorse – to claim the honor of having completed one of the world’s most prestigious water endurance events. Photo by: Harry Kern

Good luck to ALL the paddlers out there, launching from Whitehorse today in this iconic and incredible adventure through the great wilderness in North America for the 2017 Yukon River Quest.  Stay tuned for MORE updates at Standup Journal Online as we receive photos and footage from the intrepid paddlers on their iconic river run.  Paddle ON!


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Evelyn O'Doherty, editor & publisher of the new Standup Journal 2.0 is a former school teacher gone rogue. She left her career as a teacher in order to spend more time near or on the water after learning to surf turned her life around (upsidedown?). She is a year-round surfer and paddler living on the eastern tip of Long Island in NY who is a certified SUP instructor, seasoned SUP racer and avid longboard surfer. Evelyn was hired as Online Editor to Standup Journal in 2016. Her passion for the project quickly led to her success and eventually taking over the mag herself in Oct. 2018. Today, as editor, publisher and chief bottle washer at Standup Journal, Evelyn keeps her toes wet writing, traveling, paddling, surfing, and learning to foil. You can find her most days paddling out on Gardiner's Bay or surfing Ditch Plains in Montauk, NY.