Kenyan paddling duo Marcus Savage and Peter Tyrrell started the Yukon 1000 on Monday (18 July).
The pair are paddling to raise money and awareness for Running for Rangers, a Kenyan charity that supports rangers fighting poaching in the country.
Having grown up in Kenya, both are much more accustomed to the equatorial heat back home than the frigid arctic condition we are likely to experience on the race.
In the past, 32-year-old Marcus has taken part in numerous multi-day solo and self sufficient trips up Mount Kenyans well as sailing and sea kayaking expeditions along the Kenyan Coast. He has also braved many shorter but challenging wilderness trips in Scotland, Montana, Kenya and on the Grand Canyon.
His paddling partner, 24-year-old Peter has organised and run the British Universities kayak expedition to Ethiopia and taken part in numerous first descents and other kayak expeditions around Kenya.
Savage and Tyrell expect the journey to take them around 10 days and they estimate they will need to consume around 4,000 calories daily, which is more than either has ever eaten before.
The cause they’re paddling for is enough to keep them going is Running for Rangers which was started about five years ago and supports the rangers in Africa who patrol the wilderness to stop poaching.
Savage and Tyrrell met on the river in Kenya. But despite both being talented whitewater kayakers, neither of them has attempted a race this long – or flat – before.
To prepare, Tyrrell has been training on a sliver of water, about a 100-metre loop, and has done a lot of cross-training. Savage has been cross-training as well, although he has been in a tandem kayak a handful of times.
Speaking to Whitehorse Daily, conservation researcher Tyrrell said: “In the last 10 years the price of ivory and the rhino horn has skyrocketed because of the demand from the Far East. It really is putting a lot of pressure on people to protect wildlife.”
As he grew up in Kenya, the majority of his free time growing up was centred around wildlife and spending time outdoors.
“You could camp along the river or go for a drive and see these magnificent creatures,” he says. “I don’t want to see that going.”
Savage says that the odds are stacked against wildlife against humans destroying their homes and killing them.
“I love wildlife,” he says. “I like to be in small groups and to be out in the bush, so that’s where I like to be. That’s what I want to see preserved.”
At the time of writing, they’ve raised £1,280 for their cause, which they’ve branded Kayaking for Conservation.