Do you really want to do this?
Whitehorse to the Alaska Pipeline/Dalton Highway
1000 Miles / 1600 Km
7 to 12 days of 18 hours solid paddling
Monday July 18th, 2016
This semi-annual race is the longest canoe and kayak race in the world, by far.
The Yukon River 1000 is a LONG endurance paddling event. This race took place in 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2014. The next race is scheduled for 2016.
An article about the race from July 2011 Canoe and Kayak Magazine
This race is the longest canoe and kayak race on the calendar, knocking other long races into a distant second place. The rules in 2010 were modified in light of what we learned in 2009. They are more or less unchanged since then, other than some dates and new specifications for four-person teams. They can be found here.
In 2009 the river levels were more or less normal. In 2010 the water levels were much lower, unusually low. This was reflected in the winning times: over a day longer than in 2009. The weather was nastier too, with about 300 miles of continuous heavy (cold) rain. Had we run the race in 2013, the water levels would have been wonderfully high, but there was a lot of smoke from forest fires.
In the spring it looked like 2010 was going to be a bad fire year, but that changed. The fire season was early, but not bad. 2009 was a fire year. 2010 was a rain year. 2014 had head winds on Lake Laberge and low water on the upper Yukon. The weather was hot on the Yukon section of the race, and cold and wet in Alaska. What will 2016 bring? It could be wind, or it could be sun, or it even could be balanced! These are uncertainties that affect any race, but in a race of this magnitude, you have be be able to cope on your own with whatever happens out there.
The 2014 race was run yet again by fast kayaks, one really fast canoe, some more canoes and this time a pair of SUPs, allowed in as an experiment.
The days before the race were cold and damp. This is good as it encourages teams to think about what gear to take: cold and wet are probably the worst enemies on this race, made worse by being tired.
Race day itself started unpromising, but turned out to be a beautiful day, or would have been had it not been for the rising North wind. Lake Laberge was initially almost glassy, wich encouraged the leaders to take a potentially dangerous line up the middle of the lake. The rules have been changed so such behaviour in the future risks disqualification. The wind picked up on the second half of the lake, and all the teams paddled up the East shore from there on, just as they are supposed to. The wind affected the canoes and especially the SUPs more then the kayaks, and only the Finnish canoe team made it off the lake on the first day. The leaders, the Kiwis, made it all the way to Hootalinqua.
The second day saw the fleet spread out, with the Kiwis and the Finns reaching Fort Selkirk, and the back of the fleet spread out as far back as Little Salmon.
Day 3 brought about some changes. The Kiwis and the Finns continued on their charge, with the rest of the kayaks dropping back behind them. Much further back were the canoes and then the SUPs. The girls, the Paddling Madelines, were in the lead of the canoe pack, but stopped early. Later we discovered that an old injury had disabled one of them.
By the end of day 3, the back of the pack were camped at Fort Selkirk, a full day behind the lead boats. Most of the kayaks were spread out from just upstream of Kirkman Creek to just downstream of the Stewart River. The Kiwis were in Dawson with the Finns a couple of hours behind them.
Day 4 was marked by teams slugging down the river. The Paddling Madelines limped on to just before the White, and the rest of the tail of the fleet, the Hardings, the Dalton Bridge Runners, and the SUPs, ended up camped almost together downstream of the Stewart. The bulk of the kayaks, the Goldfish, the South Africans, and Sam McGee were spread out along the river between Dawson and the US border. Goldfish were only about 15km before the border, Sam McGee about 20km upstream of 40 Mile. Meanwhile the Kiwis and the Finns were well ahead in Alaska having horrible weather. The Kiwis camped at Nation River in a Park Service cabin, the Finns 20km behind them.
Day 5 saw the leaders enter the Flats, with both teams ending up camping in the confusing section of river between Circle and Fort Yukon. Goldfish and the South Africans were at Slavens Cabin and the Nation River Cabin respectively, Sam McGee being just downstream of the South Africans
The Paddling Madelines limped into Dawson, where they eventually scratched. The Hardings camped at 40 Mile, with the Dalton Bridge Runners and the SUPs more than 20 km behind, and only about 2km apart.
On Day 6 the two lead boats continued to eat up the river. The Kiwis camped about half way between Beaver and Stevens Village, the Finns just past Beaver. The rest of the kayaks ended up between Circle and Fort Yukon. The other two canoes and the SUPs were all around Nation River, the Hardings being 20 km downstream, the Dalton Bridge Runners a couple of km upstream, and teh SUPs on a sand bar just at the cabin having been pipped at the post by some tourists who got to the cabin just before them.
Day 7 saw the two lead boats come in with the Kiwis an hour and a half ahead of the Finns who set a new canoe record for the race. Meanwhile, at the back, the SUPs found themselves storm bound with head winds and stopped just after 2pm. By the end of the day, Goldfish were about 20km past Beaver, the other two kayaks were camped together just before beaver, and the canoes were well over a day behind camped about 15km from Circle, the Hardings downstream, the Dalton Bridge Runners upstream. At this point, the SUPs were a long way back, over 30km before Slavens Cabin.
Day 8 saw some neck and neck racing between the South Africans and Sam McGee. They both set out from camp together, and remained together until about 8:30, when they chose different channels. They then lost sight of each other until 10:15, when the channels joined with Sam McGee now 3km or more behind the South Africans. At 10:45, they again made different channel choices, this time ending up with Sam McGee being as much as 45min behind the South Africans and out of sight. Sam McGee then went on a charge, getting almost up to the unsuspecting South Africans by 2pm. At 3:15, they were shown as 10 seconds apart, 6km from Stevens Village. The South Africans pulled out a 5 minute lead, and held it to the finnish ending up less than 8 minutes ahead. Meanwhile, Goldfish had come in an hour and a half ahead of these two kayaks.
Further back, the canoes made steady progress, and the SUPs made up some of the ground they lost by being storm bound the previous day. They were now all well into the Flats, the canoes ending up downstream of Fort Yukon with the Hardings having a lead of about 40km, and the SUPs being a good 60km behind.
Day 9 saw the remaining three teams making steady progress through the Flats. The Hardings maintained their lead over the Dalton Bridge Runners, but the SUPs caught up about half the gap, reducing it to about 30km. By the end of the day, The Hardings were about 50 river km before Stevens Village, about the same distance ahead of the Dalton Bridge Runners.
Day 10 started for the SUPs about an hour before the canoes helping them reduce the gap still further. By noon the gap was down to about 4km, helped by them making better channel choices. By this time the Hardings were past Stevens Village and almost out of the Flats. By 2:30, as the Hardings approached the bridge, the SUPs had overtaken last canoe and the race to the bridge was on. By 8:30 they were in the canyon, and lass then 1km apart, now with the canoe ahead, a position they were to hold as they finished 10 minutes ahead about 10:15 that night.
All told, an exciting race, dominated yet again by kayaks but with a strong canoe contending for the win. The SUPs finished respectably, held up by weather somewhat. Had the weather been kinder, they would probably not have been last. Had the weather been worse, they could have been stuck for much longer. Still not sure what to make of them.
2010The 2010 race was marked by teams dropping out. We had one team scratch at Carmacks, with badly upset tummies. Then three teams dropped out in Dawson. The teams that did remain in the race were all fast, and the race could have gone to any of them. Eventually it was won by the two Australian buddied solo boats, with an Australian canoe not far behind, and another Canoe not far behind them. All the boats came in within 30 hours of the winners, a remarkably tight race. In 2009, the teams were spread out over a week!
In 2010 only two new course records were set: fastest buddied solo team (well they were the first such team to enter), and fastest "Red Lantern" team. I suspect both records will stand for a while.
Go to River stories for more on how the Yukon 1000 unfolded in 2010. If you were a racer, please feel free to contribute your race stories.
You can see the results from 2009's race, and the daily reports, in the history section. The weather was insanely generous to the extent that I worry that the racers will not realise just how lucky they have been.
The 2009 race was a great success. Some photos of the racers have been posted in the gallery, and there are a couple of YouTube videos that are really worth looking at.
Well done Rob and Russ, and Richard and Henry, first place kayaks and overall winners, Ardie and Rod, 1st place Canoe, and Kerry, Paul, Holly, Mike, Matt, Teresa and Brian in the Voyageur and everyone who took part in the 2009 race.
Take a look at the Yukon 1000, Yukon 360 shop, you can buy mugs, T shirts, race shirts, and our beautiful posters. We no longer have any of the black 2009 race shirts. But we do still have some white race shirts from the 2010 race (there are no dates on the shirt): these are wonderful synthetic tee shirts with a map of the race on the back and the logo on the front. The map on the back does not qualify as a river map for racing purposes, but is there to enhance your bragging!
The Race starts in Whitehorse and continues down river all the way to the Alaska Pipeline Bridge on the Dalton Highway, 1000 miles, 1600 Kilometres downstream. Dawson is not even halfway!
This race is held in the same spirit as the early 20th century expeditions: the first to fly the English Channel, the first to fly the Atlantic. No one expected the Daily Mail or Raymond Orteig (who offered the prizes) to provide any safety cover. Teams should enter the race in that in mind. We provide the frame work of the race, we provide monitoring and presentation of the progress of teams, and that is where our responsibilities end. Each team should think of itself as being on a self-sufficient expedition.
Registration for the 2014 Yukon 1000 is open.
The FAQ, rules, waiver, and 5 Fingers pages have been rejigged so they print nicely. the FAQ prints very well "2 up". I printed it in "booklet" format, but my printer is clever that way.
The Yukon 1000 is made feasible by new technology. In the past, putting on a race of any length has required a small army of volunteers to man checkpoints. But this race will be using Spot devices ( findmespot.com). These devices are little boxes about the size of a Garmin ETrex GPS, have no display and only 4 buttons. Inside, they have a GPS receiver and a Sat phone messenger. You push a button, and it sends a little message from almost anywhere in the world telling those you want to know where you are and if you are OK. In addition, these devices come with a panic button and $100,000 of rescue insurance. This is a completely new way of running a race that has not been possible before.
This race is long. We anticipate the leaders taking 6 to 8 days to complete the course, depending on weather. We want to prevent racers from being "overenthusiastic" and paddling all night so we require each boat to check in every evening before 11:15pm, and again in the morning FROM THE SAME PLACE at least six hours later. This enforces a night time stop for each boat.
The race is open to tandem canoes and kayaks, voyageur canoes, and pairs of solo canoes and kayaks. Solo boats must travel together and must camp together each night. The river is too big and the race too long and lonely to allow solo competitors.
The entry fee is $250 Canadian per paddler, so that's $500 Canadian for a pair of buddied solos or a tandem kayak or a tandem canoe.