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Yukon River Quest 2023

The Yukon River Quest is the most remote, endurance paddle race in the world. Five SUP paddlers took part in the race which was held over July 4-7, 2023 with Göran Gustavsson taking the win in a time of just over 57 hours.

Known as the “Race to the Midnight Sun”, the Yukon River Quest is the world’s toughest and alluring marathon paddling Race – 715 km / 444 miles from Whitehorse to Dawson City, Yukon, Canada. The five competitors were;

  1. Göran Gustavsson – 57:04:04
  2. Thomas Schillig – 57:32:28
  3. Christoph Weber – 59:20:16
  4. Samuel Ogden Newton – 67:16:33
  5. Hugo Vernhout – Withdrawn

This was Göran and Thomas’ second Yukon River Quest and they pushed each other most of the way. Special mention to Sam Ogden Newton from the UK who completed the race. Below are some excerpts from Facebook of both Thomas and Göran’s experience.

SUP Racer on Thomas Schillig (aka Chilli)

This guy is my new hero: Thomas Schillig aka “Chilli” from Switzerland crossed the line at 4am on Friday to complete the epic, exhausting and exhilarating Yukon River Quest after 57 hours, 32 minutes and 715km (or 444 miles) of ultra-marathon paddling through the remote Canadian wilderness.
And for the second year in a row he did it on an inflatable paddleboard that he designed himself!
The Yukon River Quest is considered one of the most challenging paddle races on the planet. The course covers territory so far removed from civilisation that competitors must be self-sufficient and prepared to wait up to 48 hours if they require any sort of medical assistance. Traditionally a canoe race, over the past few years many SUP athletes and adventurers have attempted the odyssey.
Chilli finished runner-up in this year’s Quest to Sweden’s Göran Gustavsson, a veteran of the 220km (130-mile) SUP-11 City Tour in the Netherlands who can now add a Yukon victory to his incredible list of ultra achievements. Göran finished 28 minutes clear after almost three days on the infamous river where he and Chilli were paddling side-by-side for much of the way.
My hat goes off to everyone who completed this year’s Quest including 68-year-old Canadian Christoph Weber who was the third SUP over the line in what was his fifth time paddling the Yukon!
On a side note: Chilli and Göran will compete in the ‘Last Paddler Standing’ multi-day epic in Florida later this year (where we’ll once again be attempting our “endless live stream” of the event). And they’ll surely be two of the favourites after this effort!

Words from Göran; Conquering the Yukon River Quest: 58 Hours of Paddling Bliss in the Wilderness

The Yukon River Quest, an epic race through the untamed wilderness of Canada’s Yukon Territory, stands as a testament to the indomitable spirit of human adventure. It is a grueling 715-kilometer paddle race along the historic Yukon River, demanding competitors to push themselves to their limits for the ultimate prize of triumph. In this article, we delve into the remarkable experience of paddling for 58 hours to cross the finish line first in the Yukon River Quest and explore the sheer joy that accompanies such an accomplishment.
As competitors embark on this arduous journey, the vastness of the Yukon River presents itself as both a daunting challenge and a breathtaking wonder. The untamed beauty of the wilderness surrounds them, immersing paddlers in a world devoid of civilization’s trappings. The untouched landscapes, tranquil forests, and rugged mountains provide a picturesque backdrop to the intense physical and mental exertion required to conquer this legendary race.
Competing in the Yukon River Quest demands an extraordinary level of physical endurance. Paddlers push through fatigue, battling against relentless currents, unpredictable weather, and sleep deprivation. The rhythmic motion of the paddle becomes a lifeline, propelling them forward with each stroke.
Moreover, the mental fortitude required cannot be understated. Competitors face moments of doubt and exhaustion, questioning their ability to endure. It is in these moments that the human spirit shines brightest. Drawing from deep reserves of determination, they find solace in the camaraderie with fellow participants, the support of dedicated race organizers, and the unwavering support of loved ones who track their progress along the river’s edge.
As the grueling hours pass, the joy of crossing the finish line becomes a beacon of hope, inspiring paddlers to push beyond their limits. The sense of accomplishment and the realization that they have conquered a monumental challenge instills an unparalleled euphoria. The exhaustion fades into the background, replaced by an overwhelming surge of triumph.
The joy is not merely the result of winning the race but also the journey itself. The Yukon River Quest fosters a deep connection with nature, allowing participants to witness the raw beauty of the Yukon in all its glory. It is a privilege to paddle amidst the pristine wilderness, where the only sounds are the rhythmic splashes of the paddle and the symphony of nature.
The Yukon River Quest is more than just a race. It is an opportunity for personal growth, self-discovery, and the forging of lifelong bonds. Competitors become part of a tight-knit community that shares an unbreakable bond, having conquered a common challenge that few can comprehend.
The Yukon River Quest is an extraordinary test of human endurance and an ode to the human spirit. Competing in this race requires unwavering determination, physical prowess, and mental resilience. Paddling for 58 hours through the wilderness, facing the elements head-on, and surpassing one’s limits is an experience that forever shapes those who undertake it.
The joy that accompanies crossing the finish line is a culmination of the physical, mental, and emotional journey. It is the realization that they have accomplished something extraordinary, pushing the boundaries of human potential. The Yukon River Quest is not simply a race; it is a transformational experience that leaves competitors forever connected to the untamed beauty of the wilderness and to their own indomitable spirit.
Thanks to all volunteers the competitor and a big thx to Suptrainer Canada Hugo Vernhout.

Well done to all competitors and we look forward to hearing the stories and more photos coming through of this epic event. For more information, check out the links below.

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David Saunders
David Saunders
9 months ago

There’s also the yukon 1000 I think quroc sponsored couple of uk guys to compete in it

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