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Yukon River Quest launching with record paddlers

Nearly 120 teams are registered for the Yukon River Quest from June 22 to 25.
Linda Rapp, a founding member of the Paddlers Abreast team who passed away in January, is seen walking alongside the Paddlers Abreast boat during the 20th anniversary of the Yukon River Quest in 2018. The Yukon Quest will launch for the first time since 2019 on June 22. (Al Foster/Submitted)

Nearly 120 teams are registered for the Yukon River Quest from June 22 to 25.

According to Quest organizers, the 119-team field is record-setting.

There will be 257 paddlers representing 13 countries, including Australia, Austria, Belgium, Estonia, France, Germany, Ireland, New Zealand, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the U.S.A.

It will be the first Quest held since 2019, as COVID-19 nixed 2020 and flooding cancelled 2021.

This year, water levels are being monitored to assess risk, officials say. Any final changes to the race format will be announced by June 10.

According to Quest board president Deb Bartlette, enthusiasm is at an all-time high.

“I get emails every day from paddlers about how excited they are to actually be able to come back, or to come to the Yukon for the first time and to be able to race this year,” Bartlette said in a statement.

Paddlers will be racing for a purse of $59,000.

The rules for the Quest will differ slightly in 2022 from previous years.

There will be two start times due to the high water levels leaving less shoreline access. Teams will start at 9 a.m. and noon.

Carmacks will host two checkpoints at Coalmine Campground and the Bridge Site, or the old YG campground. The latter will acommodoate solo and tandem canoes and kayaks.

There is also a new checkpoint at Minto Resort, with replaces the former Coffee Creek checkpoint.

These changes create two road-accessible layover checkpoints for the first time.

Teams will be required to take a 10-hour layover between the two checkpoints. Teams will choose how to divide those 10 hours.

Masks are also strongly recommended at any indoor locations along the race route.

The awards ceremony will be outdoors at Fort Herchmer, behind the Commissioner’s House, in Dawson City.

This year’s race has been dedicated to Ingrid Wilcox, who died of cancer in 2021. It also remembers Robert Carlin “Buckwheat” Donahue Jr., Linda Rapp, Shelley Gellatly, and Bob Daffe.

Updates to race prooceedings and standings will be posted on the Quest’s website, Facebook and Instagram pages.

Contact Gabrielle Plonka at