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Canoe marathon to revive a tradition
Race would serve as warm-up for Yukon River Quest

Mark Rieder
Northern News Services
Thursday, August 6, 2015

The East Three Canoe Club will hold its first marathon race along the Mackenzie River on Aug. 15, in part for canoeists to prepare for future Yukon River Quest events.

NNSL photo/graphic

Brandon Johnston and Shona Barbour of the East Three Canoe Club hit the water earlier this year. The club will be hosting its first-ever canoe marathon on Aug. 15. - photo courtesy of Shona Barbour

Shona Barbour, one of the event's organizers, said the marathon is a revival of events that took place in years past.

"Years ago, there used to be lots of canoe races along the Mackenzie River," she said.

Teams from Inuvik have had much success in the famous Yukon River Quest, which is the largest canoe marathon race in Canada.

"The idea is that people can use the Mackenzie Canoe Marathon as sort of training or to get a feel for things," said Barbour.

"They'll do this race, see if it's something they're interested in and then potentially get into the Yukon River Quest."

No strangers to canoe sprinting, this is the first time the club has organized this type of race.

"This will be the first time that East Three Canoe Club has put on a marathon, which is a lot bigger than a sprint," she said.

"This one that we're aiming at is about 140 kilometres. It'll go from Tsiigehtchic up the east channel to Inuvik."

The marathon will take place mostly at night. Racers will depart from Tsiigehtchic at noon and are expected to arrive between 2 and 8 a.m. the next day, based on an average speed of about 10 km/h at around 60 strokes per minute.

"We're thinking that teams will do it between 14 and 20 hours. That's non-stop, not getting out of the canoes, just pushing through the middle of the night," she said, adding that this time estimate is not accounting for currents or water levels.

They are expecting eight to 10 teams to take part in the tandem canoe race. That number does not include qayaks, although some have expressed interest in taking part.

"We're allowing kayaks to go in but they won't be eligible for the prize money," said Barbour, pointing out that the smaller craft have an unfair advantage because they are inherently faster than canoes.

Participants can enter in male, female or mixed teams.

Safety issues will be covered by the Inuvik Coast Guard Auxiliary and Inuvik Ground Search and Rescue, said Barbour. Several way stations will also be set up at regular intervals along the route. Check-in will be at the Mackenzie Hotel.

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