WHITEHORSE, YUKON, CANADA – The countdown has begun to the opening of registration for the 24th Yukon River Quest (YRQ). Registrations will open at 14:00 Yukon time (MST) on Nov. 15, 2023 for the annual paddling marathon, to be held June 24 – 29, 2024.
The 715-kilometer (444-mile) race is run on the Yukon River from Whitehorse to Dawson City in Canada’s Yukon Territory.
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.
Annually, the River Quest’s continued success depends on more than 125 dedicated volunteers who bring skills and enthusiasm to the event.
The “Race to the Midnight Sun” for many years was the world’s longest annual paddling race, and it remains 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, teams paddle non-stop to reach Dawson City, the heart of the Klondike.
The YRQ is now a qualifier for participants in the Yukon 1000, which happens a few weeks later.
The allure of the Yukon River has made the YRQ a draw for teams from many other countries, drawing paddlers from 36 nations. 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, the race returned in 2022 on a fast andhigh 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 30 C degrees and lower water levels, preventing any records from being broken.
In setting the race dates for 2024, YRQ officials noted that the anticipated snow pack this winter has been forecast to be low due to El Nino. They also heard from racers and volunteers that they are keen to return to the longstanding race start date on the first Wednesday after the summer solstice.
Teams are advised to register early to both ensure a spot in the field and give paddlers plenty of time to train.
Things to know for the YRQ 2024
• Entry fees are $400 per boat plus $400 per paddler.
• Prize money could be $64,000 CDN if there is a full field.
• Race start time is 9 a.m. on June 24 unless numbers and water levels necessitate a second start time.
• Paddlers are encouraged to provide their own support crews. However, the YRQ has implemented a paid service to support teams at the mandatory layover in Carmacks.
• Mandatory layover time will be a total of 10 hours.
• Tracking devices (SpotX and In Reach) are required.
More details will be made available soon in the 2024 Rules on the website, www.yukonriverquest.com. Rules are posted in English along with a Racer Guide and several preparation tips. The rules are subject to change.
Watch for race updates in newsletters and on social media sites linked from the web page.
Honouring YRQ Accomplishments
While many enter the race to finish with a fast time and earn prize money, most join the race for the personal satisfaction of staking their claim to a coveted YRQ Finisher Pin. It’s a life-fulfilling, bucket list accomplishment.
Paddlers who have finished multiple YRQs also now covet entrance into the “Great River Club” which was unveiled for the 20th anniversary. Racers who have logged 5,000 and 10,000 kilometres are members of that elite club and receive special pins.
For more information visit the Great River Club page on the website.
The Yukon River Quest is organized by the Yukon Marathon Paddling Association, based in Whitehorse, Yukon, Canada.
Major sponsors include Yukon 1000 Race Timing Software, Gold Trail Jewellers, The Whitehorse Star, Air North, yukoninfo.com, Kanoe People, Up North Adventures, The Coal Min Campground, Total North Communications, Little Salmon Carmacks First Nation, Selkirk Development Corporation, and Newmont Coffee.