SAYING GOOD-BYE – Jim Tousignant, 42, shares a moment with daughter Katherine, 14, left, and son Sean, 10, by his kayak before heading onto the river last night.

Whitehorse’s kayak racers set sail for Dawson
A Whitehorse Star Archive story originally published June 21, 2000

Ingrid Wilcox wasn’t exactly sure what to expect over the next few days as she filled her vessel with the supplies she figures will be required during her trip to Dawson City.

Wilcox, 52, is a recreational kayakist/canoer. As she prepared to launch her kayak on the Yukon River last night as one of the three entrants in the solo kayak category of the second-annual Yukon River Quest, she seemed to be taking a light-hearted, yet apprehensive approach to her voyage.

Wilcox has never raced before.

“Let’s just say I plan on getting there,” Wilcox replied with a smile which seemed to touch the lower rims of her sunglasses last night, while loading her kayak at the race’s starting point behind the Yukon Territory Government building.

“We’ll just have to see what the next few days brings. Hopefully, I’ll finish (the race) a minute ahead of Jim,” she chuckled, referring to Jim Tousignant, the 42-year-old race competitor who was loading his supplies a few metres in front of her.

For Tousignant, the River Quest is also his first opportunity to test his endurance over such an extended journey.

A Whitehorse resident who is an employee of the government’s Bureau of Statistics, Tousignant’s expectations of the race were also low-key. But an outward showing of excitement nonetheless came shining through, much like the early-evening sun which was shimmering on the river’s water next to him.

“Sure, it is (exciting),” he stated when queried what he was feeling, moments before hugging his two children farewell for the next six-or-so days.

“I’m sure there will be a lot of tiredness and soreness,” he said. “I just want to get into Minto by Thursday and Dawson Sunday.”

There is a mandatory six-hour rest stop in Minto along the way to Dawson.

Wilcox and Tousignant will be paddling down the river against fellow local racer Yannick Bedard.

Due to the small number of single kayak entries in the River Quest, the prize money for this portion of the event has been reduced from the advertised purse of $2,900 to $1,000.

The first-place finisher will receive $500, while the second and third-place finishers will collect $300 and $200, respectively.

The main event of the River Quest got under way with 14 entries starting from Main Street this afternoon at 12:15.


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