Yukon 1000 Canoe and Kayak Races

Stories from the 2010 Yukon 1000

The Story of the 2010 Yukon 1000

Sunday 18th July

On Sunday morning several teams took advantage of a free shuttle put on by Kanoe People bringing boats back from the Takhini Bridge.  That gave them a chance to get their canoes wet in the Yukon.

Chuck on the beach

In the afternoon was gear inspection.  There were no significant issues, and everything looked to be on track.  One thing that did come to light is that the USGS topo maps (survey date 1956, and rather misleading in the Flats) are being published by various organizations with copyright dates of 2006 and the like.  That is very misleading for people.  Oh well: as long as you paddle down river you'll be OK, right?

In the evening we discovered that the border officer in Eagle, Chuck, was missing presumed dead.  He had been out on the road when it was washed out and his truck had been found swept down a deep gully.  Chuck had always been a very flexible border officer and would process people through the border almost any time of day even though the post was only officially open 8am-8pm. It is far from clear what this means for the race.


start of the race

Monday 19th July

The race started at 11:00 on Monday morning.  Before that was a good two hours of people getting their boats ready and that heady mixture of anticipation and the occasional near panic.

The start was slightly ragged as some paddlers failed to hear the start signal and delayed for about 30 seconds.  I do not think it will make a difference over the race, but it was my mistake...  I forgot to take my whistle to the start.

Three teams were not sending Spot data to begin with.  These teams were intercepted at Takhini bridge or Policeman's Point, and data started coming in.  Some teams are still being a bit slow with data, but a fairly clear picture is emerging.  There is a solid front pack of teams 3,4,5,8. Then teams 6 & 7, then teams 1,2 and 9.  The total spread at 4pm, 5 hours into the race, was about 1 hour.  This may sound like a lot, but actually makes this quite a tight race.  There is very little indication yet what the order will be in a week's time.

By the end of the day, the story was different.  Boats were spread out from Hootalinqua (team 3) to Lower Laberge (team 2):

Team 3, Ausy Toms, at Hootalinqua
Team 4, Starfactor, 1.5 Km before Hootalinqua
Team 5, TPI-C, 10 Km before Hootalinqua
Team 8, Sugar Creek Bears, 4Km past the 17mile Woodyard
Teams 6 and 7, Chapter 1 and Chapter 2, at the 17mile Woodyard
Team 9, ShalomViking, halfway between Lower Laberge and the 17 mile Woodyard
Team 1, Bearly Moving in US bend  1km past Lower Laberge
Team 2, A Grizzly End,  at Lower Laberge

start of the race

Tuesday 20th July

Tuesday was the first full day of the race, and one that was some paddlers get into their stride, and others start to realise just what they had let themselves in for.

The front pack,  the two Australian teams, TIP-C, and the voyageur made a good run and are past Five Fingers.  Tom Simmat and Steve Pizzey were past Minto, and camped about 1 Km past where Rob and Russ camped. Rob and Russ were in one of the winning boats  last year, so it is quite possible that Tom could make the same time the winners did last year.

The tracking is working well this year, except for a couple of teams.  Team 2 is looking for a serious slap on the wrist if they do not use their Spot device properly.

Also on Tuesday the situation at Eagle became clearer.  I have now given the racer's passport details to the new officer there, and he told me that he would have the border open all daylight hours rather then the official 8am-8pm.  "I will do things Chuck's way", was what he said.  So that problem is out of the way.

And the weather continues to be favourable.  Teams can expect occasional showers for the next couple of days, and some thunderstorms.  AS long as they are prepared there should be no problems.

Team 3, Ausy Toms, at 4Km past Minto
Team 4, Starfactor, 22 Km before Minto
Team 5, TPI-C, 1 Km before Yukon Crossing
Team 8, Sugar Creek Bears, at Tatchun Creek, just past 5 Fingers
Teams 6 and 7, Chapter 1 and Chapter 2, and Team 1, Bearly Moving, 22Km before 5 Fingers
Team 9, ShalomViking, 5Km past Eagle Bluff
Team 2, A Grizzly End,  2Km past Little Salmon

start of the race

Wednesday 21th July

The race is developing.  Up in front are three boats, the two Australian teams.  The Other two boats that were almost up with them, TIP-C and the voyageur, Sugar Creek Bears seem to have dropped back, the Voyageur almost back with the next group.  The next group consists of Chapters 1 and 2 and Bearly moving.  Then a long way back from them we have Shalom Viking. 

A Grizzly End limped into Carmacks today, taking 7 hours to cover the distance from Little Salmon, little more than drifting speed.  The have send a couple of OK messages from the Hotel there.  This does not (yet) imply that they have withdrawn.  It is within the rules to stop and stay at a hotel.  The only thing not permitted is help that is not equally available to all paddlers.  It is possible that they are licking their wounds and will set of bright eyed and bushy tailed tomorrow morning.

So the position at bedtime on Wednesday night is as follows:

Team 3, Ausy Toms, at 10Km past Stewart Island
Team 4, Starfactor, on Dicks Island at the mouth of the Stewart River, 10 Km back, but they stopped 30 minutes earlier so about 10 minutes behind.
Team 5, TPI-C, 12Km before the White River, 32Km behind, over 2 hours behind
Team 8, Sugar Creek Bears,7Km before Kirkman Creek, 25 Km behind, 2 hours behind
Teams 6 and 7, Chapter 1 and Chapter 2 4Km before Ballarat Creek, 22Km behind, over 1 ½ hours back
Team 1, Bearly Moving, 5Km past Brittania Creek, 6Km behind, about 30 minutes
Team 9, ShalomViking, 16Km before Fort Selkirk, about 115Km back, call it 9 hours behind
Team 2, A Grizzly End,  in Carmacks, apparently in a hotel there.

The race is still wide open...

start of the race

Thursday 22th July

The race seems to have turned into three races.  At the front are the two Australian teams, Ausy Toms and Starfactor, and TIP-C.  In the middle are most teams, Bearly Moving, Sugar Creek Bears and Chapters one and two.  At the back is ShalomViking.  Grizzly End, although they have withdrawn is still being tracked, and is only 100Km behind ShalomViking.  ShalomViking has, unlike all the other teams in the race, not been sending regular spot messages, which is embarrassing as it is when a team is not racing hard that people particularly want to see that data.  ShalomViking has made only 105Km today after a long rest stop: they started at 11:20 this morning, and stopped at 11:10.  That means they were only moving at just under 9kph, only about 3kph through the water.  But they are moving, they are checking in, and it is all downhill to Dawson. They are now over a day behind the next team.

The next teams, running 6th and 7th are Chapters one and two.  They made it into Dawson just inside the 11:15 cut-off, joining the Sugar Creek Bears who appear to be taking a breather to see Dawson:  Sugar Creek Bears pulled into Dawson about 5pm and are spending the night there.  Well, they should be well rested in the morning and perhaps will pull away from the Chapters tomorrow.

While the Voyageur team was resting in Dawson, Bearly Moving blew by.  They are now well on their way to the border.  But the other two canoes are still far in the distance about 85Km and 110Km ahead.

The lead pack consists of the two Solo boats that make up team 3, Ausy Toms.  They appear to be in Eagle.  They  have been processed into the US.  Starfactor has drifted back a bit and is now about 40Km behind, still in Canada.  Team TIP-C has sometimes been almost in sight of Starfactor.  In fact, Statfactor made camp about 50 minutes before TIP-C, and TIP-C therefore almost caught up.  It is almost funny to see that TIP-C stopped only 1Km short of where Starfactor stopped, but just around a corner so won't have seen them.  It is odd to think that while we know where everyone is, the competitors have no idea where they stand.  TIP-C has a Yukon 1000 veteran who has paddled the Flats.  In the next couple or three days the relative position of these teams may reverse, and Bearly Moving is still in with a chance of better than 3rd place canoe.

The leaders are now just over the half way mark, which some little way the Canadian side of the border.

The position at bedtime on Wednesday night is as follows:

Team 3, Ausy Toms, Tom Simmat and Steve Pizzey, in Eagle, about 724Km to go.
Team 4, Starfactor, Rod Spinks and Greg Lennox, about 32Km past 40 Mile, about 780Km to go, but they stopped at 10pm PDT, so about 2 hours earlier than the Ausy Toms.  IF they can get cleared through bright an early in the morning, they may not be as far behind as it appears.
Team 5, TPI-C, Dave Dahl and Rick Lorenzen, about 31Km past 40 Mile, about 779Km to go, right on top of Starfactor, but in reality an hour behind, a difference that might make no difference depending on how the border opens.
Team 1, Bearly Moving, Sandra and Robert Mitchell, 20Km past Dawson, 875Km
Team 8, Sugar Creek Bears, are in Dawson, with 894Km to go.
Teams 6 and 7, Chapter 1 and Chapter 2, Monique Dube and Simon Coward and Blair Trottman and Nicole Nadorozny, are also in Dawson, pulling in at 10:55pm
Team 9, ShalomViking, Björn Stansvik and Michael Anschel, 7Km before Brittania Creek, 1090Km to go, or 195 to Dawson,
Team 2, A Grizzly End, 5Km past Minto, 1200Km to go, or 306Km to Dawson.

start of the race

Friday 23th July 16:00 PDT

The race seems to have changed character as it crossed the US border.  Way out in front now we have team 3, the two buddied solos in their own private race. About 70 Km behind them we have a real ding-dong race for 1st canoe.  Team 5, TIP-C is all of 5 minutes ahead of team 4, Starfactor. And about 90Km behind them we have team 1 Bearly Moving and about 25Km behind them are the Sugar Creek Bears.

More or lest for the first time since Lake Laberge we have boats able to see a boat they are racing against.  I'd bet good money that tonight teams 4 and 5 will either camp together or will both stop for the minimum 6 hours.  It is amazing how much difference being able to see a boat you are racing against makes.  Without that you think you are secure in your position and that it is impossible to catch anyone up, so you drop into cruise control.  For TIP-C and Starfactor that mode is over.  The only thing that will stop these two teams battling away hard all the way to the bridge is if one team breaks or Stockholm syndrome takes over and we end up with what Tim calls a "Brokeback River" finish, with the teams holding hands to finish first equal!

Friday 23th July, Bedtime

The race continues with the same form it had developed this afternoon.  Team ShalomViking seems, finally, to have picked up their game, covering 125Km today.  At this rate they would finish in another 8 days.  They are also still NOT sending track messages during the day, unlike all the other teams, and in contravention of race rules

The positions when the teams stopped for the night are as follows:

Team 3, Ausy Toms, Tom Simmat and Steve Pizzy, 24 Km past Slavens Cabin, 545Km top the end, stopped at 20:55.
Team 5, TIP-C, David Dahl and Rick Lorenzen, 4.5Km before Sliven's Cabin, 575Km to go, stopped at 22:26
Team 4, Starfactor, Rod Spinks and Greg Lennox, 14.5Km before Slavens Cabin, 585Km to go, stopped at 22:07

Team 1, Bearly Moving, Sandra and Rob Mitchell, 25Km before Nation River, 470Km to go, stopped at 21:20
Team 8, The Sugar Creek Bears, 22Km before Nation River, 467Km to go, stopped at 22:55
Team 9, ShalomViking, Bjorn Stansvik and Michael Anschel, 1.5Km before the 60 Mile River, 965 Km to go.

Note that team 5 is 10Km ahead of team 4, but team 4 can start almost 20 minutes earlier.  If they are making 15kph, that cuts team 5's lead to 5Km.

Note also that team 8 is 3Km ahead of team 1, but team 1 can start 1:35 minutes earlier in the morning, putting team 1 ahead really.

start of the race
start of the race

Saturday 24th July

The sixth day of the race saw the heat put on the solo kayaks up front. Overnight, TIP-C actually camped six kilometres downriver of them. The Ausy Toms were on the water earlier Sunday morning though, and managed to regain the lead. Starfactor is right up there too, battling with TIP-C for the first place canoe. Whether either or both can push past Ausy Toms to win outright remains to be seen. There is still a significant gap between the front three teams and the two remaining teams. Team 1, Bearly moving, has a little catching up to do if they want to catch the Voyageur, Sugar Creek Bears, but the Yukon Flats are a bit of a maze in places, and anything could happen.

The overnight positions were as follows:

Team 5, TIP-C David Dahl and Rick Lorenzen, 19Km past Fort Yukon, 306Km to go, stopped at 22:35.
Team 3, Ausy Toms, Tom Simmat and Steve Pizzy, 13Km past Fort Yukon, 312Km to go, stopped at 20:40.
Team 4, Starfactor, Rod Spinks and Greg Lennox, 4Km past Fort Yukon, 321Km to go, stopped at 21:50

Team 8, The Sugar Creek Bears, 55Km past Circle, 428Km to go
Team 1, Bearly Moving, Sandra and Rob Mitchell, 7Km past Circle, 475Km to go

Note that Team 5, TIP-C, while ahead overnight, stopped later, so the realistic lead still belongs to Ausy Toms. Their lead is not what it once was though. Can the canoes mount a comeback?

start of the race

Sunday 25th July

Day seven and the last full day of the race for some teams.  Team 3, the solo kaykas, continue to hold the lead, but only by about 10Km.  Two of the front runners seem to have called it a night quite early, stopping not that much after 9pm.  That might not be unrelated to the rain squall that passed through aboput that time.

However, Team 5, TIP-C, like the previous night pressed on until almost 11pm, leapfrogging the rival canoe, but not the leading kayaks.  They might have done that had they not made a poor channel choice earlier in the evening, chooseing the longer, but more obvious northerly channel when the other boats went south. 

The complicated navigation is more or less over for these teams.  But for the two other teams still in the race, navigation is still very much an issue. The voyageur, team 8, is 92Km back from the front pack, and the other remaining team is another 80Km behind them. Overnight, TIP-C actually camped six kilometres downriver of them. The Ausy Toms were on the water earlier Sunday morning though, and managed to regain the lead. Starfactor is right up there too, battling with TIP-C for the first place canoe. Whether either or both can push past Ausy Toms to win outright remains to be seen. There is still a significant gap between the front three teams and the two remaining teams. Team 1, Bearly moving, has a little catching up to do if they want to catch the Voyageur, Sugar Creek Bears, but the Yukon Flats are a bit of a maze in places, and anything could happen.

The overnight positions were as follows:

Team 3, Ausy Toms, Tom Simmat and Steve Pizzy, 92Km from the finish line, stopped at 21:02.
Team 5, TIP-C David Dahl and Rick Lorenzen, 7Km further back, stopped at 22:53.
Team 4, Starfactor, Rod Spinks and Greg Lennox, 3km behind them, stopped at 21:17
Team 8, The Sugar Creek Bears, are 92Km back, 194km to go, and stopped at 22:20
Team 1, Bearly Moving, Sandra and Rob Mitchell, 21Km behind the voyageur, 314Km to go, stopped at 22:40

We could see the lead boats coming in as early as 9:30 tomorrow morning, but more likely about 11 (even with the best data, it is still guesswork!)

Monday 26th July

Today was the day the most teams came in. They was all in good spirits and some even looked like they could turn round and go back!

The hotel at the finish was filled with the ausy hordes. Not only were the two Australian teams there, and their support crews, but there was a group of Australians who had floated down from Whitehorse: they had been passed by the Yukon River Quest and now the Yukon 1000!

start of the race
Team 3: Ausy Toms, 11:27:27 on Monday, 7 days, 1 hour, 27 minutes and 27 seconds
start of the race
Team 4: Starfactor, 12:58:06, 7 days, 2 hours, 58 minutes and 6 seconds
start of the race
Team 5: TIP-C, 13:34:10, 7 days, 3 hours, 34 minuters and 10 seconds
start of the race
Team 8: The Sugar Creek Bears, 21:17:20, 7 days, 11 hours, 17 minutes and 20 seconds

It is worth mentioning that Phil Saunders in the Sugar Creek Bears team is 73 years old.  That makes him the oldest finisher ever of the Yukon 1000 by about 10 years

The remaining team was 16 Km before stevens villiage at 9am Alaska time, so will not get in until Tuesday afternoon

Tuesday 27th July

start of the race

The last team came in today. they got in about 16:45, and were in fairly good shape, but for some reason Rob's knee packed up. He was hurting out there, but they made it into the finish in a very respectable time. After last year's race it is almost unbelievable that the whole field came in within 30 hours.

The Story of the 2010 Yukon 1000

Yukon Tom was a legend in a voyageur canoe
He was usually guiding a green horn crew
This time the crew was a bunch of New Yorkers
Led by a man named Capt Phil Saunders
Yukon took that crew to White horse town
He said this river we're gonna run down
They paddled and paddled for 80 miles
Camped at a place named Moose Shit Isle
Day 2 came and started well
But by afternoon things went to hell
So Capt. Phil he ordered a break
And said each guy a hamburg would take
The next 2 days were filled with rain
The Sugar Creek Bears were in great pain
So Capt. Phil said I know what you need
A hotel room and some really good feed
The town of Dawson lay ahead
They paddled hard to reach that bed
They got up the next day and started putting on miles
They hit the Artic circle and all shit big piles
The next night Yukon was making their camp
A grizzly came charging he shat his pants
The charge was real cause his pants were full
He pulled his spray and aimed at his skull
Pulled the trigger but the safety was on
Things didn't look good for Yukon Tom
But the bear stopped short when he saw the canoe
A beautiful cedar stripper with a Kevlar hue
The bear said hey boys, here's what I'll do
I'll sit on the bow and guide this crew
Yukon said sure and they shoved off with a yell
The team was looking good, things were starting to jell
As they paddled along they could start to smell smoke
When they rounded the bend the view started to cloak
It was a forest fire and the smoke was thick
Finding the line would be a real trick
But the bear was good and he guided them along
Waving his flag and singing his song
Soon the air cleared and the river looked fine
The team was headed to the Alaska Pipeline
So Capt Phil he did some math
He laid out the final path
He said 10 mile canyon was between them and the end
But they hit a gale wind when they rounded the bend
The canyon whipped up to a wicked brew
But the bear said don't worry I'll get you thru
He sang his song and kept them in time
As they paddled towards the finish line
The finish was a pipe filled with oil
A beautiful site well worth the toil
The bear said come on boys, just a little more
And soon they saw Peter running the shore
Thru the last eddy and over one last boil
They pulled into shore and all drank Crown Royal
       Phred