It was around the 560-kilometre mark of the Yukon River Quest that it finally clicked. Tired, dazed, and with every part of my body screaming out to stop after more than 50 hours of paddling, it hit me like a parting of the seas: The reason why we love these ultra-marathon events (or “ultras”) is because they’re so much more than just a race.
This wasn’t entirely news to me — I’d already paddled the 220km 11-City Tour several times and submerged myself in the unique camaraderie of the ultra paddling community — but I hadn’t been able to put it into words before. Perhaps it was the morning mist, its ghostly silhouettes gently rising from the river as the midnight sun rose above the treetops and blessed the valley with its warmth, a moose and its calf roaming the distant shore in this wild, remote and incredibly beautiful corner of Canada.
Or maybe I was just hallucinating again.
Either way, that was the moment I realised my passion, my purpose, my “reason why” is to help promote these incredible paddling adventures known as the ultras and help grow this amazing community of crazy, ultra-endurance paddlers. → READ MORE
[FULL REPLAY] Bart de Zwart and I hosted a special screening of the Yukon River Quest documentary “Chased by the Midnight Sun” today, including some bonus commentary and behind-the-scenes stories. Thanks to everyone who tuned in from around the world to watch — hope it gave you a little quarantine entertainment and motivation!
“King of the Ultras” Bart de Zwart joins us from Maui to preview tomorrow’s Midnight Sun watch party and chat about the raw attraction of paddling the Yukon River.
Join us tomorrow for a special screening of our Yukon River Quest documentary with bonus commentary from Bart and I. We’ll be live-streaming “Chased by the Midnight Sun” on the SUP Racer Facebook page and adding our comments/stories as we all watch it together. → READ MORE
Canada’s Yukon River Quest, one of the grandest adventures in the world and an event so close to my heart I spent three days paddling it and another three months making a movie about it, has been cancelled due to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). The mind-boggling, 715km-long race, where finishing times range from 40-70 hours, sleep is rare and wild hallucinations common, was originally scheduled for the final week of June. → READ MORE
What motivates someone to paddle 715km down a long, cold and very lonely river in the Canadian wilderness? And what happens to the body and mind when they do? Follow eight stand up paddlers as they attempt the longest annual paddle race in the world, the Yukon River Quest…
It was 3am Tuesday. I’d been staring at the remote Canadian wilderness for 16 hours straight. I hadn’t slept much, and I was seriously questioning why I was doing it all in the first place. This was the Yukon River Quest, which at 715km is the longest annual paddle race on the planet. It’s a mind-bending experience that pushes the body to its limits and the mind well beyond.
But on that early Tuesday morning, I wasn’t looking at the Yukon up close: I was watching it over and over again on a computer screen. Because for the past three weeks I’ve been doing nothing but working on a documentary about one of the grandest adventures in the world of paddling.
Chased by the Midnight Sun is an hour-long tribute to the splendid beauty and sheer absurdity of the Yukon River Quest. It explores what happens to your body and mind when you paddle three days down a very long, cold and lonely river with little sleep and even less of an idea why you’re doing it to begin with.
Featuring Bart de Zwart, myself and half a dozen very bold stand up paddlers who attempted this crazy mission, the film is now finally complete, and I’d love to share it with you at the online streaming premiere on Saturday 14 March. → READ MORE
"Chased by the Midnight Sun" ☀️The story of the Yukon River Quest — premieres 20 November 🎥 [update: we're now launching on 25 November] I'm very excited to share this documentary about our three-day, 715km odyssey through the Canadian wilderness. Endless days, sleepless nights and mild hallucinations… The full movie drops in a couple of weeks but here's a little teaser trailer about our descent into madness 😵
After I (and half a dozen other crazy adventurous stand up paddlers) spent three days paddling down 715 kilometres of a very long, very cold and very lonely river, we’ve put together an hour of interviews, insights, drone footage and delirious GoPro monologues to create ‘Chased by the Midnight Sun’ — the story of our “descent into madness.”
The film premieres on the 20th25th of Novembersoon right here on SUP Racer. I’m still going through the editing process, which has now officially taken longer than the race itself. Probably early to mid December. Hope you enjoy this little trailer while you wait…
The world’s longest annual paddle race, the Yukon River Quest in Canada, has sold out in what is surely a record time.
Registration for the 2020 edition, which isn’t happening til next June, opened up last night and immediately attracted a flood of entries. There were about 80 teams signed up within the first hour and 99 after two, with international paddlers staying up late or waking up very early to secure their spot.
The 125th and final team was registered around the 12 hour mark, which is almost twice as fast as last year’s registration blitz when the YRQ filled up in just over 24 hours. → READ MORE
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
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
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
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.
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
After 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