Thursday, June 01, 2006

WaterTribers in the Yukon River Quest

June 28th begins another great wilderness paddling challenge, the 2006 Yukon River Quest (YRQ), a 460 mile (almost non-stop) , gruelling event, which begins in Whitehorse, journeys across Lake Laberge and down the Yukon River to Dawson City. It's billed as the longest endurance marathon canoe and kayak race in the world. This race even starts with a 1/4 mile run to the water.

Having finally moved up in the wait list, and now entered, is the very successful WaterTribe Challenger, Marty Sullivan, known among the tribe as SaltyFrog. Marty, along with his 2006 Everglades Challenge (EC) partner Rod Price (RiverSlayer), won the class 1 category with a double (it was actually a triple) Chesapeake Light Craft Condor kayak they built. 300 miles in 3 days, 6 hrs 30 min, 22 hrs ahead of the next Class 1 boat. Marty will have no trouble in the Quest. In previous ECs Marty has placed 3rd in 2005 and 1st in 2003, in Class 1 solo. Photo on right is Marty and Rod taking the Condor for a test ride during it's final construction. Note that Marty paddled with a wing, and Rod with a single blade.

Marty will not be the first, or the only WaterTriber to enter this race. Carter Johnson (XLXS), and Sally Mason (LilMonster) were the 2006 EC winners in class 2 double, 3days 5hrs 48 min. Unbelievable, yes that was 3days 5hrs 48 min, they entered the EC in a double surfski! So amazing, they even had to wear their GPSs around their neck, stopping to look at charts was not something one can do in a racing double surfski. This pair was so fast, I can't even find any photos of them. They will be racing the YRQ for the second time. They finished 2nd in last year in the mixed tandem kayak class, 50 hrs and 57 min, coming in second to other WaterTribe alums Heather and Brandon Nelson.

Another regular WaterTribe alum and fellow Kruger paddler, Bob Bradford (NightNavigator), placed 1st in the 2005 EC, and 3rd in 2006, Class 2 double. In WaterTribe, Bob partners with his wive NightSong. Bob has been around. He has also previously competed in the YRQ, taking 1st place in 2002 canoe class in 55 hrs 22 min (remember this is 460 miles). Bob is actually quite well known for long distance paddling. In 2003 he completed the Mississippi River Challenge, a 2,348 Mile marathon to support the research of for Rett Syndrome & Leukodystrophy. It took only 18 days 4 hours, and 15 minutes in a Kruger Cruiser with partner Clark Eid to complete this feat. In 2001, Bob and Verlen Kruger won the 2,348 mile Great Mississippi River Race for Rett Syndrome in 24 days 17hrs 51 min.

Just to put it all in perspective, my previous EC times are: 8days 1hr 33 min in 2004, 6 days 13 hrs 22 min in 2005, and 7 days 33 min as part of the first stage of the Ultimate Florida Challenge this year. A cruiser not a racer, I'm always at the end of the pack, but so far, always a finisher.

And, like the WaterTribe Challenges, the Yukon River Quest has been on my "To Do" list for a few years now. I'm not actually sure what would be the biggest challenge, the 460 mile paddle, or the drive up and back, 3,746 miles, 53.5 hours driving one-way.

I have even had some email communication with the YRQ race management this year, and am happy to report that they are considering allowing solo Kruger Canoes next year, Hmmmm........

Good luck to all.

P.S. Registration is now open for next years 2007 WaterTribe Everglades Challenge, March 3-11. I've already signed up.

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