From The Yukon News , August 6th, 1999

River race run by all ages

by Jillian Rogers
News sports reporter

Ione Christensen pushed her turquoise-colored sea kayak into the Yukon River, slipped on her bright-yellow lifejacket, adjusted her bush hat, then slid gracefully into the craft and attached the spray skirt.

Paddling gently to maintain her place, the 66-year-old appeared comfortable and confident when the announcer called on all the contestants to board their boats.

Five kayaks, eight traditional canoes and one war canoe - which seats nine -were going to race downriver to the Tahkini River Bridge on Wednesday evening.

"I've been doing it all my life," said Christensen.

The Yukon's lakes and rivers have been an integral part of her life since she was a little girl, she added, noting she has no particular favorite body of water.

"The Teslin is nice and I like the Yukon, too," said the former Whitehorse mayor and territorial commissioner.

While most of her river experience has been earned in canoes, she chose a kayak for the second-annual Down River Race.

"I'm doing this for fun," she said. "I hope to finish in an hour and a half but I don't know if that will happen."

Christensen, who likes to use paddling to keep fit, said she often enters events just for fun.

"It's a lovely way to enjoy the water," she said.

One hour, 25 minutes and 22 seconds after the race's start, canoeists Mike Onesi and Jason Murphy arrived first at the finish line.

Close behind them came the enthusiastic paddlers of the war canoe, chanting out their strokes. Their time was one hour, 27 minutes, and 42 seconds.

Christensen, who cover the 20-kilometre course in one hour, 39 minutes and 20 seconds, arrived at the bridge tired and thirsty.

"I lost one of my water bottles along the way," she explained.

Yvonne Harris helped to organizer the event. She also participated in it.

"We're hoping the race will grow and we'll get a few more competitors," she said.

"I think it's great to encourage water sports in such a beautiful place, and meet new people."

Harris and her partner, John McHutchion, finished third in the canoe category and fourth overall.

Thirteen-year-old Owen Holmes was a paddler in the war canoe.

"It was tiring… we were all tired and we weren't sure where the finish line was," said Holmes, who is a youth kayak instructor for the Yukon Canoe and Kayak Club.

Here are the other results of the race, which ended with a picnic at the bridge.

1999 The Yukon News