Yukon River Quest is the longest kayaking race in the world, which takes place annually in Canada. The nearest competitions are from June 26 to 29. Specially for The Challenger, businessman, extreme player and traveler Boris Batin told how to sail 715 kilometers in 85 hours and not get out of the race.
The Yukon River Quest race begins in Whitehorse and ends in Dawson. The distance between these points is 715 kilometers, their must be overcome maximum in 85 hours.
P about the path two mandatory short stops , you can relax and sleep for several hours , the rest of the time - rowing in cold water, surrounded by dense forest and dark rocks.
In the competition I participated with my friend Evgeny Pochaev in a double kayak. It so happened that we got to the start already tired. Before Whitehorse, we had to fly with two transfers - in Frankfurt and Vancouver. We were late for one connecting flight, on the second our suitcase was lost.
As a result, the road lasted for two days, during which time it was not possible to sleep or just relax.
The weather brought unexpected difficulty: the climate is northern, but the sun was unbearably hot (no Thailand and Africa were compared). At the same time, if the sun was hiding, it suddenly became cold.
Photo: Harry Kern
Start took place at noon, n The first segment was quite long - three hundred kilometers. This journey took us 27 hours.
Imagine: in this time you need to be in a boat and row. N and no other actions. After ten hours you don’t feel anything: neither legs, nor arms, nor back, the whole upper body hurts.
Yukon River - very beautiful , if you look at it from above, and when you find yourself in a kayak on the river, the landscape becomes extremely monotonous th : along the about their shores are gray rocks and a homogeneous dark forest. On the right are the rocks and the forest, on the left are the rocks and the forest, back and front for miles - the same .
M hours slowly glide over the water , and nothing happens around. At first, the landscape was diluted with multi-colored boats of the participants, but then they disappeared from sight.
Toward evening I really wanted to sleep. At some point on the rocks, I began to distinguish between subtle patterns. Later they began to appear more clearly - these were Egyptian hieroglyphs, runes, intricate images of animals and pharaohs.
By the end of the first night, animals and people on the rocks began to move. It turned out that because of the lack of food and sleep, I started hallucinating.
Photo: Harry Kern
When we went ashore at the mandatory stop, the worst thought was about that we will have to return to the water. This thought horrified me - I did not understand how I again could be there . It’s like voluntarily torturing yourself.
It is n that is why after the first stop of the competition approximately one third of the participants leave - they cannot force themselves to return to the boat .
During the rest of we had a snack, slept for three hours, then climbed into a kayak ( this decision was not easy) and sailed on. Problems with nutrition continued - in this state, the body does not perceive food. Physically it is impossible to chew something and swallow. Rocks squeeze you on the sides.
Hallucinations are amplified . It was lucky that at some point we caught up with a boat with guys from South Africa - r guys nearby, tried to talk. Then they started to sing. The air was cold, and I broke my voice. After finish it was hard for me to talk for another for several days - it was unexpected for the kayaking injury .
But then it didn’t scare me - he had to get to the finish line.
Kayaking is more complicated than the marathon , where the first hour - one and a half is easy , then the same amount of has endured - and now already finish in thirty minutes . Here, ahead of twenty hours of unbearable rowing ( from fatigue it is impossible to even raise hands).
On the second day of the competition it started to rain. Not very strong, but wet we thoroughly.
The body was no longer was able to warm sya , so all the time was chilled . In the kayak, I was sitting the second number, Zhenya was in front of me . In the last third of the race in our her boat e a diver appeared. He wanted to sail away to a depth of , but Zhenya firmly held his leg and did not let him do it. I touched Zhenya on the shoulder, asked to let him go already this unfortunate .
Eugene turned around, the diver's leg in his hand turned into a paddle.
I cursed everything in the world - l I would have studied ten more times ran the super marathon in Africa or climbed five times to Mont Blanc, all better than this unbearable, endless swim.
Namely shortage sleep was one of the most difficult trials in the competition. The idea of the organizers Yukon River Quest , of course, was to break a person.
When we reached the second resting point 45 hours after the start of , the rain continued.
There were canopies in the camp, it looked like to a place of terrible shipwreck: the dudes were sleeping right on the ground, someone was sobbing, someone was trying to get to the tent with braided legs. Many athletes were desperate. We slept for an hour and a half and moved on .
If earlier we tried to row in unison, then in the third section we simply rowed and tried to move forward by any means. It was about survival, it was already impossible to turn off this route, even if would be and we wanted to.
The river passes in the wilderness, far from people, on both sides - unchanging gray rocks and forest , there was no chance of salvation.
We were preparing for another. We thought that the biggest problem would be stiff legs or back, but we could not imagine that we would fight to remain conscious. Psychologically speaking, the Yukon River Quest proved to be the most difficult test of my life.