There’s great news for all you masochistic paddlers out there. You have an opportunity to join a fleet of other self-loathing boaters bent on building blisters, shedding tears and slapping mosquitoes in the Great White North. The Yukon River 1000 tacks another 440 miles onto the Yukon River Quest, the previous record holding race for distance. This one starts in the capital city of Yukon, Canada. Whitehorse is a sub-alpine city home to 22,000 people and 75 percent of the population of a province slightly larger than the state of California. From Whitehorse, participants will begin paddling officially sanctioned recreational canoes or kayaks westward through some of the most desolate land in a desolate province. Requisite gear includes 45 pounds of food per person, a 5-degree sleeping bag, a sense of adventure and a SPOT beckon. These specially designed GPS tracking devices will send out location updates through the race, loading markers onto Google Earth with the idea of turning this wilderness race into a spectator sport. Which it might be anyways. Paddlers will pass through Stephen’s Village (pop. 87), Beaver and Circle. These “towns” are all dry, so don’t expect there to be any Kokanee at the tailgate parties. If paddlers are caught with booze, they run the risk of bootlegging charges.
With winning times projected at anywhere between 7 and 8 days, the racer will end the voyage at the Dalton Highway Bridge in Alaska. Five boats are already anticipating that finishing moment. Forty-eight hours after the race was announced four canoes and one tandem kayak with two Alaskans, two Californians, two New Yorkers, two Brits and one paddler from each of the Yukon and Wyoming signed up. This will be the first crop of racers to taste the joys and pains of the world’s longest paddling race, the Yukon 1000. I for one am looking forward to watching their progression at