New paddling races coming to Yukon

The Yukon River Quest gets a lot of publicity, even being featured last week on NBC's Jeep World of Adventure Sports. However, the race is going to learn to share the spotlight.

The Yukon River Quest gets a lot of publicity, even being featured last week on NBC’s Jeep World of Adventure Sports. However, the race is going to learn to share the spotlight.

This summer, paddlers will have a couple other events to look forward to with the introduction of the Yukon 360 and the Yukon 1000.

Although the Yukon 360 might be for a wide range of paddlers, the Yukon 1000 isn’t for everyone, and its organizers are making sure the paddlers have the expertise required for such an undertaking.

“Our waiver that we have people sign (requires people to vouch) that they are experts at absolutely everything and that they know the risks on the river,” said race organizer Peter Coates. “The Yukon River Quest takes anybody who comes. I have 18 teams and I’ve turned three teams away because they didn’t have adequate wilderness experience and I thought that would be a liability.”

Yukon 1000 is a 1,600-kilometre canoe and kayak race starting in Whitehorse, going downriver past Dawson City, through Eagle, Alaska, and ending at the Alaska Pipeline Bridge on the Dalton Highway.

The distance travelled makes the Yukon 1000 the longest annual river race in the world, pushing the Yukon River Quest into the number two spot. In fact, the route of the River Quest, beginning in Whitehorse and ending in Dawson City, is just short of the ukon 1000’s halfway mark.

“The kind of pace that will get you to Dawson in five days will get you to the (Alaska Pipeline) Bridge in 12,” said Coates, who has himself paddled the route of the Yukon 1000.

However, length is not the only difference between the River Quest and the Yukon 1000. Participants of the Yukon 1000 will be carrying “Spot” devices that will transmit their location via satellite phone to a web page, so race organizers as well as web surfers can follow the progress of each boat.

“There’s actually three buttons on (the Spot device),” said Coates. “One is ‘Here I am and I’m OK,’‘Here I am and I’m not OK’ and ‘Panic,’ and the panic button goes straight to an emergency dispatch service.

“The real danger would be what’s called risk-compensation behaviour, because it could be argued that they encourage sillier behaviour.”

The devices will also be used to enforce a six-hour overnight rest rule each night.

“What they have to do is send the Spot signal before 11:15 at night and again, from the same location, six hours later,” said Coates.

Yukon 360 is a roughly 360-kilometre race, but the distance will likely change each year as its location does.

“The name isn’t really intended to represent the length of the Yukon 360,” said Coates. “What we’re doing is putting it on a different river each year. So it’s 360 degrees instead of 360-something else.”

The location for the maiden voyage of the 360 race this year will be the Teslin River, ending in Carmacks. Next year it will take place on the Pelly Lakes, between Faro and Pelly Crossing.

“That way, people can do the race over and over and do different rivers,” said Coates. “That’s a race that is aimed at the local market.

“The five teams signed up on the website are not representative of the number of people we’re expecting.”

Paddles will be hitting the water for the Yukon 1000 on July 20 and the Yukon 360 will begin August 15. The registration deadline for the 1000 is June 18 and the 360’s is a month later.

More information on the races can be found at or by calling Peter Coates at (867) 688-4630.

Contact Tom Patrick at