Paddlers start the 2019 Yukon River Quest from Rotary Park in Whitehorse on June 26, 2019. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)

Paddlers start the 2019 Yukon River Quest from Rotary Park in Whitehorse on June 26, 2019. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)

Yukon River Quest registration set to open

Registration for the 2021 Yukon River Quest will open on Feb. 14, allowing teams to begin preparation for the 715-kilometre race from Whitehorse to Dawson City scheduled to take place from June 23 to 26.

The River Quest was a casuality of the COVID-19 pandemic last summer, unable to hold a race due to public health restrictions, and this year’s event will not be a return to business as usual.

When registration opens it will be limited to Yukon and Canadian teams only, Yukon teams on hold after last year’s cancellation in line to be registered first.

International teams that were registered in 2020 will be withdrawn, but can be placed on a wait list for entry if travel restrictions are lifted before the race.

In a media release issued earlier this month, organizers made it clear that overall numbers may be limited by public health restrictions and that COVID-19 mitigation procedures are being developed to keep things safe for racers and communities along the route.

Currently, any Canadian teams from outside the Yukon would be required to self-isolate in the Yukon for 14 days before competing in the race.

Peter Coates, president of the Yukon River Marathon Paddlers Association, is quoted in the release explaining the rationale for holding a race this year.

“The race will happen, come hell or high water, preferably high water,” Coates is quoted saying. “People need something to look forward to, and even if it is just a local race it keeps the name alive.”

Registration forms will be available beginning at 2 p.m. local time in Whitehorse on Feb. 14 from the race’s website.

This year’s race will also include a half-distance race, ending in Carmacks.

Total prize money for the race is still $42,830, assuming 100 teams are registered by June 1.

Contact John Hopkins-Hill at john.hopkinshill@yukon-news.com

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