Carriere, Solie conquer Quest; Harris, Horton Yukon’s fastest
by Jeff Korenko
A Whitehorse Star Archive story originally published June 26, 2000

In the end, it wasn’t a question of who, but rather, by how much.

The team of Solomon Carriere and Dan Solie paddled into Dawson City Friday evening around dinner time, exactly an hour ahead of the next-fastest finishers to the 2000 Yukon River Quest.

After leaving the other 13 teams in their wake shortly following last Wednesday’s start in Whitehorse, Carriere and Solie stroked their way to the win, finishing the near 800-kilometre endurance test at 5:50 p.m. Friday, in a record time of 53 hours and 35 minutes.

The mark obliterated last year’s quickest finishing time, when Cumberland House, Saskatchewan’s Carriere and partner Jim Lokken got into Dawson City in 56 hours, eight minutes.

Carriere and Solie collected a total of $1,700 for winning the second-annual River Quest; $1,200 for finishing first and $500 for being the first men’s team into Dawson City.

After leaving the six-hour mandatory rest stop in Minto at 11:22 p.m. Thursday night, Carriere and Solie held a mere 30-minute lead over eventual second-place finishers Tom Feil and Jeff Mettler, who hail from Wenatchee, WA.

Feil and Mettler hit Dawson City at 6:50 p.m. Friday and won $700.

The two teams finished well ahead of the rest of the field, as the teams finishing third — Dorchester, Ontario’s Bob Vincent and &127;Gwyn Hayman (London, ON) and Dr. Wayne and Michael Gregory, from Brampton, ON — came in at 1:12 Saturday morning.

The fastest local boat, the team of Yvonne Harris and Brian Horton, finished the Quest in a time of 62 hours, 22 minutes, arriving in Dawson at 2:37 a.m.

Following them was Carcross’s William Kleedehn and Whitehorse resident Gerry Willomitzer, who finished sixth, at 3:28 a.m.

In the solo kayak category, the winning time was raced by Yannick Bedard — who finished at 1:30 Saturday morning — followed by Ingrid Wilcox, who came in at 11:52 Saturday and Jim Tousignant, who completed his race 46 minutes later.

All three are Whitehorse residents. Bedard won $500, while Wilcox and Tousignant brought home $300 and $200, respectively.

Finishing the canoe event seventh was another Whitehorse entry, Bob Hanley and Melissa O’Brien. The couple made their way into Dawson City at 8:48 a.m. Saturday.

The next-fastest vessel from the territory’s capital was paddled by Anthony Arkand.

His partner, Kurt Bringsli, came down with the flu as the team reached Minto at 5:20 a.m. Friday, so Arkand paddled the rest of the race by himself, floating into Dawson at 10:15 p.m. Saturday.

Despite finishing the race in 10th position, the Whitehorse team of Heather Birchard and Tara Wardle won $500 for being the fastest women’s entry.

This year’s race was the second time around for Birchard, 25. Last year, she raced with Eric Albertini.

During a telephone interview with them after they had reached Minto Friday afternoon, the pair sounded incredibly upbeat and more than happy with what they had accomplished to that point.

“Physically and mentally, we’re in great shape,” Wardle commented after the duo had endured nearly 18 hours of cold, rainy conditions. “The rain started around midnight (Wednesday) and kept falling until six (p.m. Thursday),” Wardle added.

The pair, who have been friends for more than two years, had put together a game plan they felt confident they could stick to, in terms of where they wanted to be time-wise at certain points in the race.

Having gotten into Minto at 12:52 Friday, Birchard and Wardle stated they were less than five minutes off the pace — at that point — they had set for themselves; a realization which left them wanting to compete again next year.

“When we went through Five Finger Rapids (Friday morning) we ended up sitting in water up to our kness,” recalled Birchard. “We thought we were headed off to the side of them, but somehow ended up going straight through the middle. There were three-foot waves and we took on a bunch of water.

“It was a hoot. It kinda broke the monotony we had been feeling up to that point in the race. There were long periods of silence, but sometimes when you have to paddle that far, it’s nice to get lost in thought for a while.”


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