Friday, August 13, 2010


Thank you extraordinary Steve, desert runner, Bass Straight crosser, Yukon conquerer, cougar fighter, finder of cabins, super organized, laughter at my jokes, boiler of billies and lighter of fires on windswept gravel banks. 

I could not have asked for a better Yukon solo buddy.

Thankyou Pip for lending me Steve and providing so much organization.

Thank you Lynton for for giving Pip to Steve and the great stability and sound advice you offered the team.

 And they waited, and they waited and they waited and they waited and they waited, to make sure they were there when we arrived

Thank you Kobi and Fiona for finding the missing spoon and keeping Christine happy and enthused.

and a special thank-you to the very best land crew Christine , now four time Yukon land-crew and countless Murray Marathons and Hawkesbury Canoe Classics. And the very best keeper of blogs.

and thank you Daen and Carina who kept the Australian side of the blog going.

and thank you Kristal and Amanda who at The Pilates Room kept my body together, and Dean and Yanda for their advice and training, and Lane Cove River Kayakers for their support and the Sunday morning guys at Manly Warringah and all those people who followed the blog who we knew were behind every one of the two million paddle strokes we each had to make to complete this crazy race.

And the mad Scotsman, Peter Coates for his extraudinary forsight in organizing such an event that can only grow and grow and grow.


Monday, August 9, 2010

Sorting Out Recovery

Sorry for not adding to the blog recently but, back at work trying to catch up and earn some money. What I need is a patron, so I can gallivant round the world and do this sort of stuff. Work does interfere with paddling. Leonardo De Vince had a patron so he could just sit around and draw stuff in a sketch book and invent stuff and dissect dead bodies and pull their bladders out and write backwards. Not that I am comparing myself to De Vince;
I read somewhere that De Vince advised on diet for his kings troops in battle. Sort of an early sports medicine guru.

Christine and I have been going through and sorting out the stuff, and putting it all way for next time. I did drag out my own bladders and sterilize.

I even managed to fit in a few paddles including a race down at Manly Warringah Kayak Club on Narrabeen Lake. I ran out of puff after about 5 kilometers, but did finish.
I am about 2 kilos lighter than when I left but was unable to weigh myself over there. I have been making a bit of a pig of myself, on American apple and blueberry pie, and with no training I have probably put on a couple of Kilos since the end of the race.
Also feeling a bit tired in the afternoon. That may be Jet lag or maybe some sports medico guru will say I am depleated in hemogugu's or something like that.

Did I mention before my back was itchy. When we stayed at the 40 mile cabin. That was the one with the meat safe, gun rack and the Auson Wells writing table.

I hung up all my Skins and thermals to dry inside next to the fire. I needed to go outside with Steve's camera to take the photographs you have seen on the blog. I did not think it was worth putting my skins and thermals back on, so I raced around outside, just in my Crocs and budgee smugglers, through the swarms of mosquitoes. I thought if I kept moving I could stay ahead of them. So all was probably well until I thought, while I was out there, I might as well have a pee.
At that point the mozzies did catch up and I have had an itchy back up till yesterday.
Chritine recons it was not mozzie bites but some dreadful rash from wearing sweaty tops all day or from lack of nutrients, bit like scurvy, or how the oranges on the orange tree get spots when you don't give the tree enough fertilizer.
So some sports health guru type will probably have a theory about that also.

On the way home I made the mistake of reading a book by Nick Jans about Timothy Treadwell. He was the guy who lived with bears in Alaska for 13 straight seasons and was finally with his girl friend killed and eaten by one of them. The book pointed out some basic dos and dont's about preventing being eaten by a bear and it would appear, in hind sight, that racing around in the woods in just Crocs and budgee smugglers was not a good idea.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Post Race Stuff

We have flown over night out of Anchorage down to LA. We did a very dosey Parramatta Road style bus tour of LA, which explained were every body important used to live and where everything important used to happen, including where Bay Watch used to be filmed. The surf was not up but you could get a shower holding your board so you at least looked wet.
Also saw where every body used to stand on wet cement and had their names put next to their hand prints. Guys like Russel Crowe in frnt of the Chinese Theartre which did not look very Chinese.
Any how then we drove to Palm Springs. This is a nice place and nice and hot. This is also a place where every body used to holiday and generaly get rehab and the odd bit of plastic surgery before their next shoot. Even Shrep came here for rehab and surgery.
I have now to repack my bags to international flight standards, with some mythical weight limit that no one understands but the lady weighing you in.
I am a lot lighter than when I flew from Australia so I wonder if I get any bonus points for that.
Re packing the bags I go through the gear I did not need to bring.
Steve was much better organised than me but there was not much on the boat I did not use.
What I did take was lots and lots of saline solution as eye wash. In the past I found if I got Yukon water in my eyes soon after the White River entered, the high ash content hurt like hell and I could only get releafe with the eye wash. This time I had a similar problem with stinging eyes, but when I wiped them with a cloth I had in the cockpit to clean my glasses, the cloth was covered in tiny black flies. This was a continual problem. I had to wipe my eyes every couple of hours when paddling. But I never used any of the saline solution.
I had no chafe problems so did not use any of the first aid stuff, but that could have been a different story. I could have done with a better tent, but the half height therma rest was a must as was the minus 15 sleeping bag.
There was a 2 litre bottle of emergency water stuck in the bow that I could not get. I should have tied a bit of string to it. I took about a kilo of lollies for a sugar hit, but only had a few. A fe more pockets to keep stuff in it place in the cockpit may have helped other wise I used every thing.
Need now to drive back to LA and then back to Sydney. We have had no end of trouble getting internet access i Palm Springs. My next blog will be from Sydney.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Anchorage Airport

I am sitting at Anchorage airport waitIng for our flight to LA,  watching huge cargo air craft, taking off and landing and wondering why we can no longer air freight kayaks into Alaska. Most of these aircraft are Air China or Singapore Airlines, or Korean Air many are unmarked, just big and white. Japan Airlines air freighted my kayak before and I have not seen one of those yet.
Looking down at my fingers typing, the backs of my hands and fingers are peeling having been badly sun burnt. I did not wear gloves in the race, just covered my hands in a thick coating of Vaseline each morning. This kept my hands dry. I got a small blister on my little fingers on the first day. I bit them and let the fluid run out, I adjusted my grip and had no further problems. I was also able to adjust my stroke to more vertical and keep a check on the release so water was not left on the blade and drip down the paddle shaft.
I tried also to keep a nice light grip on the paddle, except of course when we had drama times like emergency paddling around a gravel bank or island.
So apart from a bit of sunburn on the backs of my hands and the two small blisters that literally went away  I had no problems with my hands
Steve had big problems. He was paddling a much heavier boat to start with, and carried a lot more heavier food than I did. His instant tent was great, he was set up a ready for bed, while I was still fluffing around with logs to tie mine down but his tent was a full kilo heavier. That all added up to a much tougher paddle for Steve.
We talked about swapping boats a couple of times, but were worried about the seating change. Steve had a simple blow up pad. I had worked on my seat for months and fashioned the foam for the right angle and shape. I trained in my Horizon Tourer with this seat. It is the same boat essentially as the Flyer so I was able to bring it with me and It is repacked in my bag to take home. Neither of us had any trouble with our seats.
Anyhow Steve’s hands blistered up badly. He wore gloves which held together the bandaging he did each night. The last couple of days he must have been in a lot of pain, but in true Steve spirit he battled on.

Friday, July 30, 2010

DEBRIEF 4 Funny Stuff and Land crew

Sleep deprivation does funny things to your mind.
I was putting in the hard yards, pounding along keeping an eye on Steve off to my right wing. As usual it was raining but the clouds were beginning to lift. There were sort of horizontal bands of cloud. Although I was probably half a kilometer from the shore a plank of wood appeared in front of me low over the water, I had to immediately duck in order not to hit my head, much to Steve's amusement.

We were coming up to a wide bend in the river, the sky was an absolutely featureless grey, in front of me way off in the distance, virtually from horizon to horizon, was a band of pine trees. The bottom of the band of trees was a perfectly straight horizontal line. The top, being the tops of the pine trees, was a bit like a painter had done a very bad job painting the line around a huge white ocean liner. So convinced was I that it was an ocean liner one of the many cruise ships that does the Alaska coast route, that I stopped paddling and desperately started back paddling in order not to run into this ocean going monster working its way up the Yukon.

The first three nights we changed our GPS batteries when we stopped. I could not find where my spare batteries were stowed so we decided to change them on the water when the batteries went dead and hope what we had would last.

So all GPS battery changing was done on the run in the middle of the river, often in quite quick flowing water.

With his sore hands Steve was having trouble opening his day hatch which was just behind him in the deck on the RHS. I got the battery container out for him. He had his new batteries neatly stowed in packs of three with tape around them. He got two out and asked me to hold them while he took the old batteries out of the GPS.
I remember wondering what percentage of the total volume of the Yukon river two triple A batteries would make up and if it would increase the river flow if I dropped them in the water. In order to find out I simply dropped them in the water next to my Kayak and watched them instantly dissapeared into the muddy water. "What the F... you do that for?" was Steve's reaction. I began to explain that I was doing an experiment on increasing the river flow, when I realized it did not make sense, and got his new battery container again out of his day hatch.

We did not find staying awake when we were paddling was a problem, but as soon as we rested our paddles, we often immediately dozed off, which put us in danger of capsizing the kayaks and we woke again shaking and splashing about before either of us actually fell in.

I did eventually find my supply of spare batteries and kept a few spare in a net under the deck between my legs.

In order to change my GPS batteries I needed to undo the battery clip with one of the blades in my Swiss Army knife. My fingernails were simply not strong enough.
I kept the knife zipped in one of the pockets in the front of my PDF. (life vest)
I had the GPS off the deck and on my lap and started to get the knife out of the pocket. With a little difficulty I got the knife out, and then completely forgot what I was getting it out for, so I zipped it back in my PDF and went back to paddling. I soon noticed the GPS was missing off the deck and on my lap. I could not work out how it got there so I hooked it back in its position on the deck. The next time I went to look at what speed we were doing I noticed my GPS was dead, took it off the deck and put it on my lap and started getting out the Swiss Army Knife. I got the knife out opened up the GPS and saw it had batteries in it, closed it again and re set it up on the deck. Off course the GPS was dead, and I started all over again.
Who knows how long it took me to get my mind in the state where I could do a simple task like change the batteries in my GPS. In the mean time Steve had paddled over the horizon, and when I eventually caught him I had difficulty explaining what had kept me.


Tomorrow thoughts on diet comparisons between Steve and I.

What are the Landcrew doing after their massive journey following the race 3300km???

Lynton is traveling to Purdoe Bay at the end of the Dalton Highway, flying across to Barrow and then to the UK to visit with his newly engaged daughter.

Kobi and Fiona visited Seward with Christine and Tom then took a train to Anchorage, a plane to Vancouver and then to Victoria Island and afterwards maybe a visit with relatives in Canada.

A pile of driftwood near the coal loader at Seward. The big rivers dump thousands and thousands of tons of driftwood into the sea each year.
The Eskimos that live way above the Arctic Circle, and hundreds of miles from any growing trees are expert timber workers, constructing house and whaling boat and of course kayak framing out of timber. They have names for the different species. Most of their wood supply is delivered into the Baring Sea and Arctic ocean by the mighty Yukon River, most of which Steve and I  had to dodge on the way down.

Christine and Tom are spending 3 days in Seward recovering, watching the cruise ships, watching the fish being cleaned visiting the Aquarium and walking to the Exit Glacier.Tomorrow flying out of Anchorage to Los Angeles, a day bus trip around Los Angeles and then 2 days in Palm Springs before flying home.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Debreif 3 Some Scary Stuff

The Yukon is a very mobile river, particularly through the area of the Yukon Flats. Each year, particularly when the ice breaks up the River banks are eroded significantly and the river changes shape.
As we passed through with the river level so low, the river banks were 4 or 5 meters high. Great looking garden top soil. On the outside of the bends where the current was fastest, often the river bank was badly under cut. Curled over on top of us like riding a surf wave tube. Several times as we passed by a whole section of the undercut bank would collapse with a great crash into the water, including the trees standing on top. As the trees wipped over they could reach 20 meters out into the river.
Some trees would immediately twist their way free of the bank and carry on downstream in the current only to later be stranded on a gravel bar. Other trees would still have their roots attached to the bank. These trees would hang on desperately to the bank, majestically out in the flow. We could hear these trees from some distance as the water roared passed the branches. This gave us a bit of warning. Debris, from other fallen trees, eventually got caught up in their branches and the trees, still with roots hanging onto the bank, swung against the bank. There they sat silently until the debris washed off their branches and with a great roar and rush swung back out vertical to the bank.
Survival rule No. 1 Dont be tempted too often into the fast water too near the bank

There were no river maps in the Yukon Flats area, The topographical maps were so out of date, "they may well of been of the Mississippi". As said the race director, so we relied on relatively new Google Earth images.
The river is so full of volcanic ash and silt that you cannot ascertain its depth by its color.
Shallow water we could ascertain by boat speed on the GPS, or stranded debris and tree trunks,  but on several occasions when more than half a kilometer from the bank on either side we hit gravel and mud banks. There was no indication it was shallow, just the same creamy flowing water. Not until we were stuck and stopped did we become fully aware of how fast the river was running. Some times we simply got out and dragged the kayak to deeper water, but often the river bed was too soft to stand on and you feet sink deep into the mud and you were at risk of getting stuck falling over and letting go of your boat. With a half mile wade / swim to the shore.

Before the flats the river gauged its way passed rocky bluffs, where the ice break up showed great scraping around the water line. May be it was the rain we had, or the hotter sun, but a couple of times when we went passed these cliffs, high above, a piece the size of a house broke off and crashed into the water beside us, sending out waves that followed us down the river for some time.

If we were not 100% alert, often we got caught just on the wrong side of an island or gravel bank, this required us to paddle desperately against the current, often bottoming out as we went against the current around the top. On one occasion after a desperate effort, I backed off a bit early and was crashed broadside into very sharp tree stump. Had the boat been holed or had I been tipped in I would have been in all sorts of trouble.

The river is full of bits of trees and logs. The moose we spotted and the cougar looked just like logs in the water. Even male moose with their antlers would look like a log with tree roots. This is their camouflage. There are no predators for moose in the water, no sharks or crocodiles. They are probably most venerable between the edge of the water and the trees on the side, where bear may be waiting In fact moose we understand are very dangerous. If approached in the water they will stand on their hind legs and strike at you with their front. All three plus ton. The moose we did see we consciously paddled away from. How many did we not see. The cougar I had to avoid by doing at least twenty desperate back strokes, or I would have run into it. It made no attempt to change direction to get away from me. It just kept swimming in the same direction while looking at me. That cougar had completed at least a kilometer crossing of the channel onto an island. It could similarly find us sleeping on an island, often much less than that from the mainland.or had we come across moose or the cougar in a more compromising position in the river when we could not stop, or the current would not let us steer around them it may have been a different story.

I would often power ahead and while Steve was catching up stop paddling, eat something, do a pee, change the batteries in the GPS etc. It was amazing if he passed me too soon, how quickly he disappeared and what an effort it was to catch him again.
Similarly Steve, soon after we left Dawson, had to stop to desperately do a No. 2.
At this point the current was running exceptional fast, I noticed he was not behind me and backed off a bit, turning every now and then to see if I could see him. It was raining. I was just about to reach for the 2 way radio (range line of site 3 kilometers)when I saw him. Apparently in his urgency to get out of the boat, he fell out and capsized. All be it on the bank, his boat did fill with water. It would have taken who knows how long to paddle back up stream in that current to find him, had he not recovered by himself.

Tomorrow some funny stuff.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Debrief 2

When the Australian Double canoe passed us Steve was a different man. Off he went after them and I had a real battle holding on to him. These racing canoes we were up against are 8 meters long, kevlar and weigh less 15 kilos, and very fast. The problem is that because of the huge amount of available space, they are tempted to fill them up with all sorts of unnecessary gear,

Up wind they are a lot of windage, added to the paddlers sitting in a vertical position.
We headed straight into a head wind, that knocked them around and we soon over took them and powered away, with Steve leading the charge.
Getting into Dawson we were able to get a sort of update from our trusty land crew.
We powered on to Eagle, in an attempt to reach there before the 11.15 pm cut out. We also wanted the time to get through customs included in our compullsary 6 hour lay off.
Approaching Eagle again it was bucketing down, freezing rain in our face. Extra incentive was to again find a cabin, or even the B and B the land crew were booked into. The heavy rain had washed out the road into Eagle and we sort of hoped it had been repaired so the crew could meet us.

I again powered ahead, to look for customs, and in the dim light on the shore to my left, there appeared flashing lights. I swung around the ferry pontoons and the customs officer was waiting on the shore just above the mud line. I nudged the shore dug out my passport, swung my legs over the side into the deep mud and promptly fell flat on my face, passport and all.
The Customs Officer said the secret to walking on the mud was to keep taking lots of little steps, "a bit like a duck."
Steve came round the corner and we were able to both press our spot devices just inside the 11.15 time limit.
There was some confusion about the time as the US was one hour behind Canada.
It was still bucketing down and we finished the customs formality and paddled the short distance down past Eagle to the B and B.

The land crew were not there so the road must have been still closed. The river was now very low and we struggled up a steel ladder passed a steel 4 meter high retaining wall.
We did see the customs flash his lights again and wondered if the canoe behind us was in.
The B and B was open, so we helped ourselves to showers, dry beds and attempted to dry some gear.
Rain, rain, rain all night, and it was not a pleasant thought getting back into the kayaks in the morning in the dim light and cold rain.
Survival mode again I thought, We put in a very big day the day before so let us just battle on. Every one is in the same situation, but the rest of them did not sleep in beds.
So off we went again after re-strapping Steves back, into a very miserable morning.
The rain did eventually clear a little and we inquired on the river as we passed cruising paddlers if any other canoes had passed that day. "You are the first we have seen" was the consistent reply.
 We passed Circle and again attempted to contact the land crew on the 2 way but no response. They had not been able to get to Circle and in any event the faster water was a good 4 kilometers away down a channel on the other side of the river.

We were now in bear country and required to comply with the local camping regulations which involved camping 100 meters from your food which had to be strung 3 meters off the ground and 3 meters from the trunk of any tree.

Tactically we thought we might again stop early that night and see if the canoe behind passed.
Again we sighted a cabin on the map, and set about running down close to the bank to find it or at least the path that lead to it.

And what a great cabin it was. Fully set up with the basics by the National Park, including a meat safe,
fire, outside dunny and fifty million mosquitoes to keep us company.
 meat safe
The view opening to the river was limited, but while we lit the fire cooked dinner and hung out our cloths we took it in turns to watch the river to catch that passing canoe. We saw nothing, but may have missed it.
The cabin was like something out of Ernest Hemmingway.

We slept up in the loft, cooking by the heat of the rising fire.

We left more or less on time the next morning, but noticed the river had risen a lot. Fortunately we had tied our kayaks to the bank.

A day of hard slog through this complex part of the river, we relied on way points we had pre set into the GPS  at critical turning points. The river basin was up tp 10 kilometers wide with several channels the fastest up to a meter wide.
Every turn we stared ahead and behind to see if we could see a canoe, with many false alarms
With the river higher we thought there might be some hope of finishing without the extra night on the river, but the river again slowed.

Steve was beginning to get really buggered. We were off the river maps and into the google maps. These maps did not indicate cabins etc, It was impossible to know if the cabins we passed were private or public, so the next two nights would be camping,

Camped again early that night on a gravel bank. Steve lit a big fire out of drift wood. My tent pegs would not hold in the gravel, so I had to tie my stays to stumps off the bank.
In putting up my tent I broke a tent pole, I fixed it by shortening it, but it broke again in the night.
Again it was windy and rainy in the night, I did not get too wet, but my tent in the morning was soaked and we were both beginning to run out of even half dry stuff.
Although it was wet once we got going in the morning, I was quite warm.

The river is full of millions of tons of debris. Trees logs etc. Half way through the next day I was paddling up to what appeared to be a log, and I had to back paddle desperately fast to avoid hitting a cougar swimming from one side of the channel to another. Stunned we both watched it swim to the shore, climb out and dive into the bush. It was some big cat.

Based on last years winning team I was able to count back from the finish, the hours to the finish and mark them on the map.

With about six hours to paddle to the finish, we camped again on a gravel island.

We got away on time, but the six hours did not take into account poor Steve's condition, the slow river and the strong head winds.

If Steve could not paddle any further I was going to tow him home. About an hour after we got going I gaffer taped his right hand to the paddle. He felt much better as it took the weight off his fingers.

A couple of hours before we finished I re did the gaffer tape. Despite the very strong head winds and Steve in obvious extreme pain to Steve's credit he managed to finish all 1600 kilometers under his own steam.

Debrief Part 1

We were first into Lake Leberge. The lake was like a mirror, just a hard  50 kilometer slog. Just before we reached the end, the voyager and one of the double canoes over took us.
Soon after we reached the faster water we passed the canoe and just before the first night stop, we managed to pull back and pass the voyager.
We had practiced our over night stop and had eaten a hot dinner and in out tents by 11.45, and only a few minutes late out on the water in the morning.
Passing through Carmacks,  we were disapointed with our time compared with previous River Quest times, but the land crew estimated we had opened up our lead to over an hour.
Five finger Rapids was very tame, as a result of the low river levels which also accounted for our slow times.
That afternoon it rained, and we spotted a cabin come camp site on the map. This would save us the time involved in putting up the tents. Steve was feeling a bit crook so I powered ahead of him to look for the site. Steve caught up while I was looking and found the site occupied by an English group on a guided canoe trip, Carmacks to Dawson over 7 days. The cabin they were not using.
It was only just standing, the floor had collapsed as had some of the roof and there was a mouse in residence. But there were 4 slatted bunks and it was out of the rain.
Steve was looking very tired and saw, I felt a sick myself and I realized the first priority was to finish this race and not to push too hard. it rained all night so I thought we should go into a survival mode and rest in a bit in the morning. As a consequence we left over an hour late.

We new we could not get water from the river once the badly silted White River entered the Yukon, so at Kirkmans Creak we filled our bladders for the last time out of the Yukon. In doing so we spotted two moose crossing the river. While watching them we became trapped behind a gravel bank and an early lesson in river vigalence.
Once The White River enters the Yukon the Yukon runs much faster. Steve for some reason decided to paddle the wrong side of a gravel island. The current was too fast for me to follow, and he disappeared.
I waited for him for what seemed like an eternity about a kilometer down stream. I was just about to reach for my 2 way radio to contact him, when he turned up, coming down a different channel, altogether.

After that fright we set up camp on a nice little island, complete with mouse poo.

Steve was feeling better and we were only about 20 minutes late in leaving that morning.

We had stopped breifly at a stream to get fresh water when the ... canoe passed us. We dashed back into the kayaks.
Steve was like a man possesed and powered after them. We caught them within an hour .I am falling asllep, more in the morning

Tuesday, July 27, 2010


The finish

Unlike you guys, we never really knew where we were positioned. We could ask other people on the river if they had seen any one through before us. We also started our compulsary six hour lay off early so any one behind us might pass while we were setting up camp. If they stopped after us they had to re start after us so we would pass them in the morning and know their position.

Steve's hands were falling apart, so early this morning I gaffer taped his right hand to the paddle. The worst case option was to tow him to the finish. Steve, however, after a new gaffer tape strap three hours from the finish, battled though the pain.

The last 30 kilometers down the deep valley to the finish had us battling into a twenty  knot head wind with very litle river flow to help.

Ecstatic we were to finally see the bridge and the finish line, and even more Ecstatic to see our great land crew and quite a few locals cheer us across the line and to find out no one was ahead of us. And better still the second team were also Ausies about an hour behind ( check the web site for exact times.)

Land crew cleaned out the kayaks and we sadly said good buy the two great Australian boats the Horizon and Elliot. This is the first time ever single kayaks have raced over 1600 kilometers.
Steve is having his hands operated on and I am battling to keep my eyes open, so more tomorrow.

from the Landcrew
Thanks to Daen and Carina for writing the Blog when we had no access to the internet out on the Dalton Highway on the way to Prudoe Bay.

We are back in Fairbanks. The accommodation at the Yukon River Camp was very basic. Accommodation built in the 1970's for the workers on the pipeline, but the staff were far from basic they make our stay very enjoyable and the food was great. They left work to cheer on Steve and Tom from the bridge over the Yukon. They were the first to see the boys round the bend in the river and call to us.

 A strong finish by the boys

 medals for Tom and Steve

2nd No 4 Starfactor Rod Spinks, Greg Lennox  from Queensland
 3rd No 5 Tip-C David Dahl, Rick Lorenzen
lunch with the first 3 boats in
 Remember No 8 Sugar Creek Bears, 

 No 9 Shalom Viking and No 1 Bearly Moving are still out there.

Monday, July 26, 2010


Steve Pizzey and Tom Simmat have won the Yukon 1000 Canoe and Kayak Race.

More news and some comments from the boys after they have a chance to catch there breath.

Day 7 When will they get to the Alaska Pipeline

Its now the final stretch. By this time tomorrow they will have finished but will they have won the race?

We will put an update on the BLOG as soon as we here the final result...

Check out there progress: Where in the world is Tom????? 

See the image below they (the little yellow kayak) are currently camped for the night 24.4kms before Stevens Village. The weather isn't looking the best with isolated thunderstorms accordin to the weather underground website. This could make visability hard in the maze of braided river channels that they will hit in and around Stevens Village.

From the image below you can see that they are in front but not by much. The last leg is 44kms from Stevens Village to the Dalton Hwy Bridge: The Finish Line. We estimate that they will finish at about 12md tomorrow Alaskan time if they get away at 5am as planned and travel at about 10kms/hr which has been there average speed for most of the race. That will be at about 6am Sydney time tomorrow morning. 

The finish line is the white dot on the river at the bottom left of the image below.

The Landcrew are currently sleeping but spent the day driving Fairbanks to Alaskan pipeline 3 1/3 hours of dirt road again!!!!!!! They are booked in to stay at The Yukon River Camp. Last year when the owners returned in the summer. There was a grizzly bear living in the accommodation. It had been sleeping on the merchandise. So they had a special sale bearly used t-shirts.

The Landcrew are out of phone and internet contact so this blog is being written by Tom's son and daughter Daen and Carina who have been sidelined as landcrew since we slept through Tom's Hawkesbury Classic finish a few years ago, but thats another story. 

webcam image from 12:11am on the 26th of July at Stephens Village. Look at those thunder clouds.

Some facts about Stevens Village:

Stevens Village is located on the north bank of the Yukon River, 17 miles upstream of the Dalton Highway bridge crossing, and 90 air miles northwest of Fairbanks. It lies at approximately 66° 01' N Latitude, 149° 06' W Longitude (Sec. 30, T014N, R007W, Fairbanks Meridian). The community is located in the Rampart Recording District. The area encompasses 9 sq. miles of land and 3 sq. miles of water.

The original settlement, called Dinyea (meaning "mouth of the canyon"), was founded by three Athabascan Indian brothers from the Koyukon region: Old Jacob, Gochonayeeya, and Old Steven. The village was named for Old Steven when he was elected Chief in 1902. During the gold rush, residents cut wood for mining operations and to fuel steamboats plying the Yukon River. A trading post was established in the early 1900s. The first school opened in 1907. A post office began operations in 1936, and scheduled air service was initiated in 1939.

Some facts about the Trans Alaska Pipeline
  • The Trans Alaska Pipeline System was designed and constructed to move oil from the North Slope of Alaska to the northern most ice-free port in Valdez, Alaska.
  • Length: 800 miles.
  • Diameter: 48 inches.
  • Crosses three mountain ranges and over 800 rivers and streams.
  • Cost to build: $8 billion in 1977, largest privately funded construction project at that time.
  • Construction began on March 27, 1975 and was completed on May 31, 1977.
  • First oil moved through the pipeline on June 20, 1977.
  • Over 15 billion barrels have moved through the Trans Alaska Pipeline System.
  • First tanker to carry crude oil from Valdez: ARCO Juneau, August 1, 1977.
  • Tankers loaded at Valdez: 19,625 through April 30, 2008.
  • Storage tanks in Valdez - 18 with total storage capacity of  9.1 million barrels total.
  • The mission of Alyeska’s Ship Escort Response Vessel System is to safely escort tankers through Prince William Sound.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Circle to Fort Yukon - Landcrew based in Fairbanks

 You can see from the Google map how close the first three teams are. There is a yellow pin for each team. Tom and Steve are first, followed by Tip-C and then Starfactor. They are all heading from Fort Yukon on the right to the finish at the Dalton Highway on the left. Only just under 500 kilometers to go. After 6 days only one Murray Marathon plus some or just over 4 Hawkesbury Canoe Classics left.

Where in the world is Tom?????

Tom and Steve are charging today - they are well into the Yukon Flats
45kms past "Circle" the land crew were unable to get to Circle due to the
estimated time of Tom Simmat and Steve Pizzey passing the village.

We are endeavoring to work out a plan to rent a float plane to get from
Fairbanks out to Fort Yukon to try and spot the team from the air, we're
not sure how this will go but, i'll keep you posted.

With no roads in the area and no boat rental that will let us take them
into the Yukon Flats - all we can do is watch their "myspot" GPS locators
on the net and the race results website

Today is the day of action - at the end of the Yukon flats it will be a
1.5 day sprint to the finish. Maintaining a lead in this stage of the
event is a gamble on picking the best line. There are no-detailed maps of
the river here with the exception of what you can see on google earth. We
have a map of the area from the Alaskan Government, get this, the scale is
1:1,400,000. SO basically you might as well take a "globe" from a
kindergarten classroom with you on the race.

The team have zoomed in shots from google earth and some basic maps
provided by the race organizers. We plotted way points back in Sydney Town
and loaded them into the spare GPS's that have taken. So with some hope
the way points should give them guidance.

Also consider when you zoom in on google earth in some locations the Yukon
Flats that you see are over 15km across

I'll check back in this afternoon with another post.........

 This race is really starting to get interesting - late in the afternoon
Alaska time today TIPC and Starfactor drew up even and battled it out for
2nd place position. Starfactor were unable to take the 2nd place spot away
from team TIPC and have now dropped back significantly. TIPC are now the
team to watch as they maintain a relatively similar position behind the
leaders Tom Simmat and Steve Pizzey the Australian Paddlers.

Stay tuned for further developments on the 2nd place position. There is a
mandatory stop coming up in 2 hours. The teams have to stop and camp for 6
hours and they must pull up no later than 23:00 hrs AK time and can then
only start back on the water after 6 hours rest.

Not long to go now. All teams still now need to keep an eye on their
course and pick the best lines across the remainder for the Yukon Flats.
For those of you following us on the results tab of the race website

make sure you select the "display map" box and zoom in on where the teams
are. This part of the river is difficult to navigate and the only guidance
they currently have is the pre-planned Waypoints we set using Google
Earth back in Sydney before we left.

We have been unable to up-date the Tom Simmat and Steve Pizzey on the
positions of the 2nd and 3rd place teams now for 2 hours so we can only
hope that if the 2nd place teams start gaining on them they "put in" and
maintain their lead.

The land crew are heading to the Dalton Hwy Pipeline Crossing of the Yukon
River tomorrow at Midday with a hope that Tom and Steve can finish the
race before midnight. IF not they may have to camp just 10kms from the
finish line to comply with the mandatory rest stop rules, so this will
mean that they finish well into the morning of the 26th of July AK

Stay posted for more developments over the next couple of hours, watch for
the "OK" spot check that means they are off the water and taking the 6 hour

cheers Kobs

The Landcrew update.

We were lucky to be able to travel the Taylor Highway Dawson to Fairbanks through Chicken. The road was only open for 4 days and has been washed out again. We saved 700 kilometers driving. Luck was with us I hope it is with the boys.

Based in Fairbanks at the Bridgewater Hotel on the Chena River

The Golden Days Grand Parade passed in front of our hotel. Old cars, community groups, fire trucks, the Army, bands, politicians, Elvis you name it they were out in force today. It was fun, all the locals had a chair and we all watched for about 2 hours.

Tonight we had dinner at the Pump House on the Chena River, sometimes it is good being landcrew.

We go to the Yukon Camp where the Dalton Highway crosses the Yukon River  to meet Tom and Steve at the end of the race hopefully late tomorrow night. Their ETA was 11am tomorrow morning but they could be as much as 24 hours late.


Tom and Steve between Eagle and Circle Alaska - Landcrew Tok to Fairbanks

Where in the world is Tom????? 
If you scroll to the end of the Yukon1000 Results page and click on Static Results with history on Google Earth you can see his entire trip down the Yukon as well as any other competitor. Look for history and click on the + to open the folder.

An early morning up-date from the Landcrew here in Tok Alaska is that late
last night Tom and Steve crossed into the Alaska Time zone and were able
to paddle for an addition hour to get the US Border crossing on the river
at Eagle.

The 2nd place team didn't make it to the Timezone change,so missed the
critical additional hour needed to keep them in a close second. Tom and
Steve left Eagle early this morning and as at 8am this morning AK time
they were leading by about 30kms - this is now around a 1.5 hour lead on
the team in second place. Still a close race given that they have been
going now for 4 days.

We're going to try and relay updates on the other teams to Tom and Steve
from the bank of the river at Circle.

Afternoon Up-date
Tom Simmat and Steve Pizzey have today increased their lead to a little
over 30kms. With the current flow rate in the river this is around a 1.5
hour gap between 1st and second place.

Interesting developments today it that team "TIPC" moved up into second
place and team "Starfactor" have dropped back into 3rd place and a gap is
opening as at this up-date they were standing at around 4kms behind 2nd

This is an interesting development - Starfactor were maintaining pace and
were in good contention for taking the lead in the last day of the race.

For those following this blog - Crossing the "flats" tomorrow is the day
for you at home to open the results webpage on your PC and leave it
running for the day, watch the changes in distance over the day as the
up-dates come through. This next stage of the river is difficult to
navigate - check it out on google earth. Taking a wrong section of the
river can add between 10 and 20kms to your journey and equally give the
teams in 2nd and 3rd place a 10 - 20 km shortcut.

We were not able to drive to Eagle as the road is once again closed. The
Team had hoped to get to Circle by tonight, with their current progress
they may make Circle by around 8am tomorrow - watch the results and see if
my estimates are correct.

We'll keep you posted - make sure you click on a couple of our sponsors
links to the right of this blog page..... more to come

  Cheers Kobi

Thank-you for the comments:-

Krystle and Amanda at the Pilates Room in Belrose. Tom has been training with the girls  to improve his strength, flexibility, coordination and posture. to avoid the problems encountered in other long distance races. There were no complaints when we saw him at Dawson.

We have also heard from the Tim and Judy Hookins back from BABYTAMING IN EUROPE.

Tom has paddled with Bonville Bashers kayak club when we were on holidays in Coffs Harbour. Ken Buckley one of the members thinks it seems to be safer kayaking than going by road in Alaska.

Julia and Chris want Tom to reconsider cutting off his toes and donating them for the Sourtoe just to save some weight in the boat.

 And Tom's new grandson Isaac Isaac wouldn't want a granddad with less toes. Even if it comes with a good story.

Love to hear from you

Just received and email from my contact in Eagle (landcrew had booked into the Bed and Breakfast but couldnt get there by road. Steve and Tom arrived 11pm and stayed in the B and B until they left at 5:30 bet they didn't  think we would get to know that so soon.

Landcrew drove from Tok to Fairbanks today with a stop over at the North Pole to see Santa.


Friday, July 23, 2010

Day 4 Onwards to Eagle

Where in the world is Tom?

Dawson City Check-in - ALL OK.

Tom Simmat and Steve Pizzy checked into Dawson City at 11.45am (PDT). A
radio relay to the team started about 5kms before the check point, with
all reports that they were going well.

The team stopped for no more than about 10 minutes and were able to report
that they were both still in good condition after 3.5 days paddling. They
got away from their overnight camp in good time and were able to maintain
their lead again early in the morning.

Land-crew waiting in the rain

Steve and Tom arriving into Dawson

 Tom getting ready to leave Dawson, Steve has already left

Team STARFACTOR took the lead in the late hours of the previous night as
Tom and Steve took on more drinking water and treated it with "puratabs".

Tom said that they had to "really put-in" to take back and increase their
lead before the mandatory 11pm stop for 6 hours.

Tom said "we didn't muck around, we stopped at 11pm (PDT) found a fishing
cabin by the river and bunked down for the night" up at 4.30am we were
back on the water at 5pm and hit our "spot tracker" and got going again.

The landcrew have been tracking the other teams and were able to spur Tom
and Steve on with a report that they had increased their lead on
STARFACTOR to about 10kms (approx 30 minutes) - This is really a tight
race, over 3 days of paddling there is still only about 50 minutes between
the top 3 teams and 2 more teams trailing not far behind that. In this
type of wilderness race anything can happen, you could hit a log jamb, go
down a longer stretch of the river, not take the shortest channel and
loose your lead.

Between Eagle and Circle Tom and Steve really have to focus on their
navigation, the local maps are absolute crap, this wilderness area has had
no real up-dates to maps created for the military back in the 70's.

Landcrew relieved to find that the highway has reopened and are able to drive over the Top Of The World Highway. Unfortunately the road to Eagle is still closed so staying in Tok tonight and tomorrow will decide if a visit to the boys at Circle is possible.

Land-crew will stay in Fairbanks tomorrow night and then drive to the end of the race to wait for the boys.

keep and eye on their progress at...

Cheers Kobi Simmat

 We managed to track down our friend Igor who has taken some fabulous photos of Tom in the past. Pictured here with Fiona watching Tom and Steve at the rivers edge in Dawson.
See Igor's website

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Not at Dawson Yet!!! - coming up to Sixty mile river

 Where in the world is Tom?

Tom and Steve are still running first but have a double canoe just behind them. The weather was overcast today and several times we thought that the canoe had overtaken them, probably an issue with the satellite 

Landcrew Carmacks to Dawson 333 kilometres

Arrived Dawson  12:30pm. Walked around town to work out where the boys would come in on the rivers edge. Landcrew disappointed looks like they wont reach Dawson tonight as planned. Tom and Steve wanted to reach Dawson 11pm to sleep in a bed and have a shower. They are 6 hours behind schedule  so will have to camp before Dawson, so will visit Dawson only briefly if at all .

Looked for Igor the photographer, Christine met on our first visit, no luck, visited the Pit the local bar where the Yukon  River Quest competitors partied to the wee small hours.... empty...

 returned to the Downtown hotel, landcrew busy watching Google, tourists downing the Sourtoe.

Where are they, when will they arrive, more drinks say the landcrew.

Computers computers computers, couldnt even use a telephone 5 years ago, now we sit in the pub on our laptops
Tom and Steve have stopped for the night here 9.7 kilometres after Stewart Island