The grub at the finish line was extra delicious for Whitehorse paddler Jason Doucet on Wednesday.
Not only did he defend his title at the Chili and Beans Downriver Canoe and Kayak Race, this time he won it all by his lonesome.
“I don’t think the gods were behind us, with all the wind we had,” said Doucet after pulling his boat from the water. “(Slowness of the river) didn’t help either. Water levels seem to have been lower this year.
“I’m looking forward to eating because I know the food is good – I remember that from last year.”
Doucet completed the 18.5-kilometre race from Rotary Park to the Takhini River Bridge in one hour and 21 minutes, eight minutes off the course record set by Whitehorse’s Greg McHale in 2007.
Instead of racing in a solo kayak, Doucet won the race last year in a mixed tandem canoe with paddler Kam Davies. The two also finished second in the mixed tandem canoe category at this year’s Yukon River Quest, and were the second tandem canoe team in overall. Shaving a full 10 hours off the previous time, Doucet and Davies were awarded the Most Improved Award at this year’s Quest.
Doucet and Davies also won the first annual Yukon 360 last summer.
Davies, who was in the women’s tandem canoe division with Jacintha Gurash, finished 10th overall and first in the women’s tandem canoe category.
Although cruising over the finish line in his surf-ski with minutes to spare, Doucet actually had a rough – and slightly embarrassing – start to the race, almost tipping the moment he entered his boat at start line.
“I didn’t go completely over; I caught myself with one leg,” said Doucet. “But yeah, it wasn’t a graceful start. But I caught up.
“Sometimes it helps to have that adrenaline boost from a bad start.”
Coming in four minutes behind Doucet for a second-place finish overall and first-place result in the women’s solo kayak division was Whitehorse’s Aly Morham, competing in her first Chili and Beans race.
“It was fantastic. I felt really great,” said Morham. “I think it was just a fun time, spending time with other people on the river and having a good chase – chasing Jason down.
“It was nice to feel strong through the whole thing.”
Morham has twice paddled in the Yukon River Quest, completing the 740-kilometre journey in her solo kayak and tying for second in her category this year.
Coming in third on Wednesday were Philippe Mouchet and Daniel Girouard in a tandem canoe with a time of 1:26.
Now in its 10th year, the Chili and Bean race had its largest turn out to date with 32 participants dipping their paddles before enjoying caribou, beef and vegetarian chilis and French Canadian baked beans at the finish line.
“I think we have a few recreational paddlers out this year,” said organizer Patricia McKenna. “Our aim for this race is to make it a fun race, so we can get people out who might want to try marathon paddling.”
Some of the paddlers in Wednesday’s race will be back on the water this weekend for a much more arduous endeavour, the second running of the Yukon 360.
This year’s 360, which starts at noon on Saturday, will take place on the Pelly River, from Faro to Pelly Crossing, a distance of roughly 300 kilometres.
“We don’t know when it’s going to finish,” said organizer Peter Coates. “If it was normal water levels, I’d say people would be finishing on the Sunday evening, but the Pelly is quite low – the snow pack was low this year – so people might be finishing on the Monday. We will see.”
So far, 13 teams signed up for the race, including two from Australia using the 360 as a qualifier for next year’s Yukon 1000.
“It’s aimed at Yukoners. The whole premise of the race is that it fits into the long weekend – people can do it without taking time off work,” said Coates. “The idea of putting it on a different river each year is specifically aimed at locals, so they can see different rivers each year while doing the same race.”
Results by time
1st Jason Doucet (men’s K1) – 1:21
2nd Aly Morham (women’s K1) – 1:25
3rd Philippe Mouchet/DanielGirouard (men’s C2) – 1:26
4th Tim Hodgson (men’s C1) – 1:28
5th Peter Coates/Dave Dahl (men’s C2) – 1:29
6th Pam Boyde/Jim Boyde (mixed C2) – 1:31
7th Tim Laprade (men’s K1) – 1:33
8th Jane Vincent/Pauline Frost (women’s C2) – 1:33
9th Susan Rubinoff/Stephen Mooney (mixed C2) – 1:36
10th Kam Davies/Jacintha Gurash (women’s C2) – 1:42
11th Leah Nielson (women’sK1) – 7:46
12th Yvonne Harris/Patricia McKenna (women’s C2) – 1:47
13th Mike Code/ Boris Khramtsov (men’s C2) – 1:48
14th Lacey Macdonald/Boh Zimm (mixed C2) – 1:49
15th Rene Lapierre (men’s K1) – 1:54
16th Nerissa Rosati/Bera Walsh (mixed C2) – 1:58
17th Sheila Curran/Deb Lisoway (women’s C2) – 2:05
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