The annual Chili and Beans Race was Aug. 6 in Whitehorse as 27 boats raced from Rotary Park to the Tahkini River Bridge.
Like the name suggests, one of the unique aspects of this particular race is the food waiting for paddlers and volunteers at the end, including not only chili and beans, but bread from Alpine Bakery and dessert also.
Although the sun was peeking through the clouds at the race start, cloudy skies took over by the time paddlers began to finish and rain at the finish did little to dampen morale.
Winning the 18.5-kilometre race this year was the team of Julianne Girouard and Cole Wilkie-Hobus paddling a tandem kayak. The duo finished in one hour, 23 minutes and 30 seconds.
Stuart Hamilton finished second, crossing the finish line in a surf ski just five seconds behind Girouard and Wilkie-Hobus.
The finish itself was an interesting one, as Girouard and Wilkie-Hobus flipped their kayak just metres from the end at the final turn.
“We were coming up and then we saw the corner, but we weren’t sure if that was it,” said Girouard. “Then when we noticed it, we started to do a pickup but we got caught in the current because it’s the opposite direction and we just flipped.”
With the end in sight, the paddlers opted to just hop back in and push for the finish.
“We didn’t even bother emptying the boat,” said Wilkie-Hobus. “We just got back in full of water and tried to race. We had to lean back because the water all goes to the front of the boat.”
While all this was happening, Hamilton closed the distance between the two boats.
“He picked up a bit and he was just behind us. That’s when we flipped and he caught us,” said Girouard. “I don’t know if he was being nice and just letting us go ahead.”
“He caught right back up there,” said Wilkie-Hobus. “He looked like he was going to go right past (the corner) until he saw us flip.”
As for going into the Yukon River, it’s not as cold as one might think.
“It’s pretty warm,” said Wilkie-Hobus, conceding he wasn’t the best judge of temperature. “We’ve gone down to competitions where people fall in what we would call really warm water, especially compared to here, and they fall in and they think it’s the coldest thing ever. (It’s all) perspective.”
Rounding out the top three was the duo of Bruce Porter and Josh Girouard with a time of one hour, 24 minutes and 35 seconds.
The race was a final tune-up for paddlers heading to the Western Canada Summer Games later this week.
“It’s a nice change,” said Wilkie-Hobus. “You get back, you get some food — good food.”
“It’s good. Especially in these conditions because you know you have a warm bowl of chili waiting for you.”
Contact John Hopkins-Hill at firstname.lastname@example.org