Watch Commander Steve King and fellow paddler Shaun ‘Percy’ Thrower have once again taken on one of North America’s greatest rivers, competing in the 444-mile Yulon River Quest, an event they won in 2014, raising money for us in the process.
The 2017 event saw Steve and Shaun – going by the team name 2 Numbnuts – paddling for 44 hours and ending the event with a two mile sprint finish in order to secure second place and win the Masters event.
The pair were at the front of the race for its duration, chasing down a leading team of six seasoned Yukon River Quest paddlers, while also attempting to keep a strong third placed team at arms length.
“We were aiming to take time out of the Voyageur [the leading team],” said Steve about tackling the final 100 mile push to the finish, “but at the same time being fully aware of Carter [Johnson] and Dave [Jenson – of third placed team, Gorge Downwind Champs] chasing us down also.”
At this crucial stage of the race the pair stressed how much the river was constantly changing as it stretched to over two miles wide in places, with continual braiding. Choosing the right channel was imperative and a wrong choice could easily have cost the firefighters10 minutes or more.
The Gorge Downwind Champs caught 2 Numbnuts with around 50 miles to the finish as a result of excellent navigation of the braids. “We saw them take a different choice on one of the braids,” said Steve, “and they accelerated away from us, it took us another 90 minutes of flat out paddling to catch them back up!”
The two teams then stayed together as neither was willing to attempt to get away from the other with three hours to go. Second place would therefore be determined by a sprint finish.
With just two miles to go, Steve and Shaun started their sprint, taking the initiative to put Carter and Dave on their back ‘wash.’
“ I can safely say that is the most effort I have ever put into paddling a boat to keep them two from coming through, and they tried plenty of times!”, said Steve.
2 Numbnuts crossed the line in 2nd place overall in a time of 44:38:51, with Gorge Downwind Champs 5 seconds later in 44:38:56
Congratulations to both Steve and Shaun for this titanic effort. The pair have raised £265 to date, but you can add to their haul by donating via their JustGiving page.