Sixty–nine teams completed the 444-mile “Race to the Midnight Sun” last week.
The Yukon River Quest starts in Whitehorse, in the Yukon. Teams and individuals race by canoe, kayak, or stand-up paddleboard, up the Yukon River to Dawson City.
The event has roots in Skagway. Jeff Brady and Buckwheat Donahue are a couple of the race’s founders. Two teams with Skagway members participated in the race, but they were not among the top finishers.
A canoe team made up of athletes from Whitehorse, British Columbia, Alberta and Montana came in first overall this year. Yukon Wide Adventures completed the race in 42 hours and 47 minutes.
Graham Henry, a kayaker from Ontario, was the top solo competitor. He finished in 46 hours and 33 minutes.
There were a couple new categories in the mix this year. Bart de Zwart, an athlete from Hawaii, was the fastest racer in the first official stand-up paddleboard category. He finished in 52 hours and 16 minutes.
Four-person canoe teams were also a new addition this year. A team of athletes from New York and Pennsylvania, was the first of its kind to ever finish the race.
That wasn’t the only milestone this year. Australian Esther Wheeler became the first female finisher ever to complete the race in the open solo canoe category.
Each team that completed the competition in under 55 hours received some amount of prize money, up to just over $2,000.
Low water levels in the river have slowed the race in recent years. But, organizers say conditions were better this year compared to 2015 and 2016.
Registration opens for next year’s event on November 1.