The 2021 Yukon River Quest has been cancelled due to a flood warning.
The cancellation was announced on June 22, just one day before the race was to commence.
Given the flood warning issued for the Yukon River near Carmacks, it was “impossible for us to offer a reasonable level of safety to our racers and volunteers,” officials said.
Race Marshal Roger Hanberg said in a release that he’s not seen this many issues with the river and race safety before.
“We have to consider the safety of our racers and also our volunteers,” said Hanberg. “We have people at remote checkpoints and very close to a river in flood. It isn’t safe for us to continue.”
Yukon River Quest President Peter Coates said the 2021 race, the 22nd annual, was hanging by a thread.
“When the flood warning came out we had no flexibility,” said Coates. “We couldn’t say let’s start the race at Minto or whatever. We had no choice. When the river is in spate it becomes dangerous.
“When the river is high like that the banks are being eroded, there is no place to pull out so if you do have a problem it’s really dangerous indeed.”
The warm temperatures causing increasing melt in higher elevations and causing debris in the water was just too much for race organizers.
“With the lack of flexibility, the only option left was this,” said Coates.
The River Quest has been cancelled two years in a row. Last year was because of COVID-19 but it’s the first time the race has been iced because of issues with flooding.
“We haven’t even delayed it because of Lake Laberge,” said Coates. “This is a first. It’s a first I didn’t want to have happen.”
Organizing a race during COVID was difficult, said Coates.
“People live this race for a year, and in this case two years,” said Coates. “For it all to come to nothing is tough.”
River Quest officials will be meeting as a board to decide further logistics about cancelling the race.
Contact John Tonin at firstname.lastname@example.org