Local women compete in Yukon River Quest

Eagle River duo part of seven-member squad


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Two Eagle River women helped a team of seven finish 33rd in the Yukon River Quest river race June 26-30.

Susan Dunsmore and Deb Anjango were part of voyager canoe team Modern Dwellers, who paddled the 444 miles from Whitehorse to Dawson City in 57 hours, 9 minutes, 32 seconds.

“I was really impressed with how we did,” Dunsmore said.

Dunsmore and Anjango teamed up with five Anchorage women, Melinda Miles, Zoe Oakley, Terri Huebler, Colleen Richards and Tori Best.

Paddling a 25-foot, 280-pound canoe with six other people is no easy task, Dunsmore said.

“The most difficult thing about competing in a voyager boat is getting personalities to mesh,” she said.

Modern Dwellers didn’t have that problem. The three veterans and four rookies had no issues, Dunsmore said.

“It was great,” she said. “Everybody just did their jobs.”

Just completing the grueling race is an accomplishment. Modern Dwellers were one of 49 teams to finish out of 62 who started the race.

Typically the fear of hypothermia forces teams to scratch, Dunsmore said, but that wasn’t the case this year. With temperatures in the 90s, combating the heat was a challenge, she said.

Dunsmore, who finished the race in 62 hours in a solo kayak in 2008, said she’s always been interested in competing with a group.

“When I first started doing this race, the voyager looked like so much fun,” she said.

Her first team experience didn’t disappoint.

“It turned out really well,” Dunsmore said. “I was just so impressed with how hard everybody was able to work.”

Though it’s a tough couple days of nonstop paddling, Dunsmore said, the familiar faces make the Quest an enjoyable event.

“It’s grueling, but it’s a really good group of people,” she said. “Everybody knows everybody in this race.”

Dunsmore has been paddling for 15 years — and it’s how she came to live in the 49th state. She and a friend paddled the entire Yukon River in solo canoes in 2000, and Dunsmore never returned home to Vermont.

“That’s how I got to Alaska,” she said. “I did that trip and never got home.”

Typically a recreational paddler, Dunsmore said the Quest offers a change to her summertime routine.

“The race is fun because of the intensity of it,” she said.

After taking a five-year hiatus due to an injury, Dunsmore said her return to the Yukon River Quest couldn’t have been better. And, she said, her teammates agreed.

“We’re already talking about next year,” she said.

 

Contact Mike Nesper at 694-2727 or mike.nesper@alaskastar.com.

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