An ultra adventure: “70% of teams didn’t finish” – Bart de Zwart on the ‘Muskoka River X’ challenge

For me, the “X” in this race represents the unknown; you never know what you’re going to get at Muskoka. And that was truer than ever this year, when rough weather forced organisers to cut this “ultra” short after 70% of competitors had already been forced to retire.

Muskoka is not only a paddling event, it’s a genuine adventure race. You have to navigate a labyrinth of lakes, rivers and portages using nothing but a paper map and a compass. There are three options: the 58km “Sprint”, 130km Classic and the 223km, ultra-endurance ‘Coureur des Bois’. I chose the 223.   → READ MORE

Paddlecast #002: Bart de Zwart (The Yukon Episode)

I’m very excited to share the second episode of Paddlecast with you today because it features my new favourite race – The Yukon River Quest – as well as a guy I’ve got the world of respect for, Bart de Zwart.

I sat down with the four-time Yukon champion and king of endurance paddling in Canada six weeks ago to record this conversation. We go into great detail (sometimes too much detail) to describe the physical highs and mental lows of this insane, 715km race.   → READ MORE

The Yukon River Quest: 715km of dehydration, hallucinations and days that never end

It’s been more than a week since we finished the Yukon River Quest and I still can’t feel one of my big toes. Apparently nerve damage is a standard result of paddling three days, three nights and 715km (444 miles) down a long, cold river in Canada. My toe should “thaw out” in a month or two, but I’ll have to wait another 12 months to experience the Yukon again.

And that’s the craziest thing about this race: despite going through a torturous test of sleep deprivation, dehydration and hallucinations, I have an overwhelming desire to do it all again. There’s something addictive about these ultras.

The Yukon River Quest is so much more than just a race, and therein lies its appeal. It’s part-race, part-adventure, part-journey into your own mind and beyond. It’s both marvelous and miserable, beautiful and boring, fascinating and fucking difficult. And it all takes place in one of the most breathtakingly-remote parts of the world you’re ever likely to visit.   → READ MORE

71 hours later… The Yukon River Quest is complete.

We made it! I’m not sure how, and I’m still not entirely sure why, but I finished the 715km Yukon River Quest alongside half a dozen other stand up paddlers and scores of crazy canoe and kayak competitors.

We had headwind, we had hypothermia, and we had one hell of a long paddle down a river in Canada. The Yukon River Quest is more than just a race, it’s an adventure. It’s a total trip that’ll stretch your body and mind far beyond its comfortable borders.

We’ll have more coverage in the coming days, but for now here are the final times of the SUP finishers.   → READ MORE

715kms down a cold river in Canada: When/where/how to follow the Yukon River Quest

Welcome to the Yukon River Quest aka “Why are we paddling 715km down a cold river in Canada?!”

Over the next three days, Bart de Zwart and myself, along with eight other stand up paddlers and hundreds of canoe/kayak competitors will be attempting to conquer the mighty Yukon River in ultra-remote, north-west Canada. Known as the “Race to the Midnight Sun,” the YRQ is the longest annual paddling race in the world.

Here’s how to follow…   → READ MORE

This is the ‘Yukon River Quest’ (OR: “Why am I paddling 715km down a cold river in Canada?!”)

In exactly seven days’ time, I will be paddling down a long, cold river towards the village of “Carmacks” in Canada’s wild and remote Yukon Territory in desperate search of rest.

If all goes according to plan, I will have already been on the water for more than 24 hours at that point, paddling all through the night of Wednesday 26 June. However I’ll still only be about one third of the way towards my final destination of “Dawson” in the far north.

Carmacks is the first of two rest stops along the 715km (444 mile) course of the Yukon River Quest, the world’s longest annual paddle race and an almighty challenge both physically and mentally.

I’ll be joined on that cold river in Canada next week by ten other stand up paddlers and scores of kayak and canoe competitors for the 21st running of the “Race to the Midnight Sun,” an event that has become something of a mythical beast in the world of paddling. The word “Quest” in the race title is very fitting in my opinion. This isn’t just a race, it’s an odyssey.

So after covering the race from the comfort of my laptop for the past few years, I’m nervously-excited to say that I’ll be taking part in this year’s challenge, and we invite you to virtually join us on this crazy adventure.

Though at this point you might be asking yourself the same question I’ve been contemplating the past few days: “Why on earth are you doing this?”   → READ MORE

Bart de Zwart: Paddling through Vanuatu (and going back in time)

Another loud explosion. We looked at each other with a mix of excitement and fear, and we wondered what was waiting for us at the top…

We were hiking the ridge of Mount Yasur on the island of Tanna, one of 83 outposts in the South Pacific that form the nation of Vanuatu. Yasur is one of the world’s few active volcanoes considered “safe” to view up close; we were still two hoars from the top but already the mountain was making thunderous, frightening sounds.

As we walked, I reflected on how we had gotten to that point…   → READ MORE

“The hardest paddle I’ve ever done” — 8 days, 1 hour and 42 minutes in the Yukon wilderness.

As paddlers were standing on the shores of Molokai last Sunday morning, staring out at Oahu in the distance and preparing for one of the most challenging races of the year, Bart de Zwart and Ike Frans were taking their final strokes along a very different, much less fabled but far more difficult course.

On Sunday morning Alaska time, just 45 minutes before the start of Molokai2Oahu, Bart and Ike crossed the line to win the Yukon 1000, a mind-boggling race through some of the most remote territory on the planet. They’d been paddling since early Saturday …of the previous week.

After 8 days, 1 hour and 42 minutes, Bart and Ike won the world’s longest canoe race, an epic, 1609 kilometre-long adventure that stretches from Canada’s Yukon territory across the U.S. border into Alaska. The “race” (perhaps *odyssey* is a more fitting description) is an extraordinary test of both physical and mental strength, with competitors paddling 18 hours per day and almost zero human interaction except for their single team mate.   → READ MORE

IRONMANA: Follow the World’s Craziest Race with Daily Updates from Postcard-Perfect Huahine

 Getting ready for the SUP race

Boss Man’s note: We’ve got one last race to finish the year, and it seems we’ve saved the best – or at the very least: the toughest – for last. IRONMANA is a week-long, multi-discipline race in the postcard-perfect Tahitian islands. This year the event moved from Bora Bora to the equally epic Huahine, and once again it’ll feature a smorgasbord of tough racing including SUP, prone, outrigger and swimming.

We call it “Five Days of Pain in Paradise,” and over the next week we’ll take you inside the belly of the beast with daily updates and insights from Starboard veteran Bart de Zwart.    → READ MORE

Bart de Zwart’s Recap of the Wet and Wild Chattajack Race: “Cold But Happy”

Chattajack

Few paddlers have covered as many miles as Bart de Zwart, the undisputed king of endurance paddling and a vetrean of virtually every ultra long distance race in the world. Bart was back in action again last weekend, where he joined over 500 other brave paddlers to tackle the almighty Tennessee River Gorge as part of the Chattajack race.

It would be an understatement to say that Chattajack was a tough one this year, with freezing cold temperatures and driving rain forcing more than five dozen paddlers to retire mid-race. Bart held on for a runner-up finish (his third straight) behind four-time champ Larry Cain; here’s how it felt out on the river.   → READ MORE

Chattajack: Larry Cain Wins Fourth-Straight Title; Seychelle Hattingh Women’s Champ in Cold and Wet Tennessee

Chattajack

In brief: Larry Cain has once again edged out Bart de Zwart to win the almighty Chattajack race in Tennessee, with the Canadian claiming his fourth-straight title in what has grown into one of the world’s largest races.

More than 500 paddlers took on the 31 mile odyssey down the beautiful Tennessee River Gorge, with the former canoe gold medalist extending his winning streak and relegating Bart to a third-straight runner-up finish. Conditions were cold, wet and challenging this year, though a solid downstream current did provide some relief.    → READ MORE

11 Cities Update: Non-Stoppers Complete 24 Hour Epic; Gnarly Winds Cancel First 5-Day Stage

11-City-Tour-Friesland
Nine brave paddlers have survived gale force winds and extreme exhaustion to complete the epic, 200+ kilometre “Non-Stop” 11 City Tour around the Dutch province of Friesland this week, as finishing times ranged from 24 to 32 hours while several others were forced to abandon their quests.

Dutchman Niek van der Linde won in a remarkable time of 23 hours 59 minutes and 48 seconds, coming home almost an hour ahead of 11 Cities veteran and pre-race favourite Bart de Zwart, while Frenchman Olivier Darrieumerlou finished runner-up for the second time after completing his odyssey in 24 hours 14 minutes.

Former champion of the five-day race Janneke Smits was the sole woman to finish the non-stop challenge this year, crossing the line after 31 cold and grueling hours out on the water.    → READ MORE

Bart de Zwart’s Yukon River Quest insights: ”You go places in your mind you didn’t know existed.”

Yukon River Quest

Recently Chris from SUP Racer asked me “Why do you do it?” Why do I paddle these ultra endurance races and expeditions? What’s the motivation?

With races like the Yukon River Quest, easily one of the longest races and most demanding races in the world at 715km (444 miles), you really have to ask yourself this question: “Why?”   → READ MORE

Bart de Zwart Completes the Epic ‘Yukon River Quest’ in Record Time of 52 Hours (UPDATED)

Bart-de-Zwart-Yukon-River-Quest-2017After overcoming extreme sleep deprivation and the sheer remoteness of the Canadian wilderness, endurance king Bart de Zwart reached the northern frontier town of Dawson at 2:16am local time Saturday morning to officially complete the 2017 Yukon River Quest, crossing the line after 52 hours and 16 minutes of paddling to set a new race record and claim line honours for the small but very bold stand up paddling division.

Following more than two and a half days of racing, which included the 52 hours on the water plus an additional 10 hours of mandatory minimum rest at the two break points (7 and 3 hours, respectively), Bart finished this ultra-ultra-marathon two and a half hours faster than his winning time from last year.   → READ MORE

Yukon River Quest: The Longest, Craziest, Most Epic Race in the World Starts TODAY

Yukon River Quest The 2017 Yukon River Quest, arguably the toughest, craziest and most extraordinary race in the world of paddling, is set to begin today in the Canadian wilderness, with eight bold and adventurous stand up paddlers joining dozens of canoe and kayak competitors for the 715km (444 mile) odyssey along the infamous Yukon River.

With finishing times estimated between a staggering 50 and 84 hours (the latter being the official cut off), the Yukon River Quest is by far the longest annual paddle race* anywhere on planet Earth.    → READ MORE

Team Mistral’s Junior Prospect James van Drunen Upsets the Veterans to Claim the Dutch National Titles, Book Ticket to Denmark

James van DrunenIn brief: James van Drunen and Emma Reijmerink have taken out the 2017 “Battle of the Coast” in the Netherlands–aka the Dutch National Championship event that serves as the qualifier for the ISA Worlds in Denmark later this year.

With strong winds in the coastal town of Zandvoort helping the event live up to its “Battle” name, James, the rising junior prospect from Team Mistral, took out both the beach race and downwinder ahead of seasoned veterans Bart de Zwart and Martijn van Deth, while Emma made it a clean sweep ahead of Petronella van Malsen.   → READ MORE

The King of Endurance Paddling: Bart de Zwart Sets New 24 Hour World Record

Bart de Zwart - 24 Hour SUP World RecordThe long-reigning king of endurance paddling, Bart de Zwart, has achieved another major milestone in his extraordinary paddling career, setting a new 24 hour world record in Switzerland this week after overcoming a late-night storm and strong winds that almost forced him to abandon his quest.

The humble Dutchman, famous for his incredible paddling expeditions and crossings (not to mention winning virtually every endurance race in the sport), completed a mammoth 193.8kms (123.4 miles) after paddling all day and all night around a lake near the Swiss town of Erlach.   → READ MORE

Larry Cain Makes It a Three-Peat at Chattajack

Chattajack paddleboard raceLarry Cain has won Tennessee’s 31 mile Chattajack race, aka the “Inland Molokai”, for the third year in a row, outlasting Bart de Zwart in a repeat of last year’s result to claim victory in 5 hours, 14 minutes.

After the 2015 race was decided in a sprint to the line, the 1984 Olympic canoeing Gold Medalist broke free well before the finish to secure a big win, coming home 11 minutes clear of his Starboard teammate.   → READ MORE

Bart de Zwart Ticks Another ‘Ultra’ off His List, Wins the 92km Great Glen Paddle in Record Time

Great Glen PaddleBart de Zwart has continued to cement his reputation as one of the craziest most inspiring paddlers in the world, taking out the 92km Great Glen Paddle in Scotland last weekend and setting yet another ultra long distance race record in the process.

To put the race in perspective, Bart won in 10 hours 50 minutes, which was a record fast time for this course; some of the other paddlers were out there for 15 or 16 hours.

Click through to read Bart’s race recap…   → READ MORE