Remember a time pre-global pandemic? Well back in the summer of 2019, after a casual chat with good friend and paddle partner Skip Innes, we started looking into taking on some kind of endurance SUP race. As we started down the Google black hole, we uncovered a series of races stretching to all corners of the world, from events like the Great Glen (Scotland, 92km), the 11 Cities (Netherlands, 211km) to the Yukon River Quest (Canada, 715km). The Yukon River Quest was billed as the second longest paddle race in the world. So, that left just one thing to do..
"hey Google, what is the longest paddle race in the world?"
And with this simple search, unknowingly our road to the Yukon 1000 had commenced.
The Yukon 1000
The Yukon 1000 is 1000 MILE (1600km) unsupported race through Canadian backcountry, and finishing in Alaska within the Arctic Circle. Billed as 'the world's toughest survival and endurance race' , the 1000 miles has to be completed in under 10 days if you want to be acknowledged as having taken part.
It just so happened that applications were open for the 2020 race, set to take part in July 2020. Thousands apply, and only 40 teams (2 paddlers in each team) make the cut. Most are in canoes or kayaks, but recently a few crazy soles have attempted it on SUP's......we started to complete the application form.
I'll be honest, at this point I really didn't think we would be selected; why would be be picked from so many more worthy entries? I kind of forgot all about the entry for a few weeks until one day, while I was relaxing by the pool on a holiday in Majorca, beer in hand and my phone went ping
Congratulations, you have been accepted on the Yukon 1000
Our place was held for a few weeks to give Skip and I the chance to properly talk over whether this was something we wanted to do, and consider some of the races key unique features :
The race is totally unsupported - everything we need to survive has to be carried on our boards - clothing, tents, food, water making facilities, spare equipment....there are no re-stocking stops or checkpoints.
The route is one of the last true wildernesses on Earth – encounters with grizzlies, black bears and wolves are common - bear spray is on the mandatory kit list.
The river is largely unmapped, and the terrain changes each year due to glacial melt. It’s so remote that emergency services will take between 8- 24 hours to reach us if we need help – meaning we must be prepared to manage our first aid and emergency survival.
After Dawson (around 400km in) there are only a handful of small communities.
Well after some serious discussions with each other, friends and family we confirmed our place, and started preparing for the race. We all know what happened next to the world, and in March 2020 the race was postponed, and then again in 2021. Although we haven't even set foot in Yukon territory, through our preparations and planning I feel like it is already a part of us; and we have already benefitted in so many ways at this point of our journey. We remain hopeful that we will finally complete our road to Yukon in July 2022. I'll be posting lots of things around our training, kit and nutrition here on The SUP Coach, and how this can help you with your own training and goals. For now, here is a video we put together and released as COVID took hold and the event was postponed.