Racers of the South Dakota Kayak Challenge face 72 miles of wind and waves on the Missouri River between Yankton, S.D. and South Sioux City, Neb. Most of the course is in the National Park Service’s Missouri National Recreational River, a unique waterway that is the only NPS property that holds the designations of Wild and Scenic River, National Park and National Water Trail.
The Challenge and its volunteers welcome all racers who seek a challenge on an amazing part of the Midwest. It’s set for May 26-27, 2018, with pre-race briefing on Friday, May 25 in Yankton.
History-rich Yankton, S.D. has been a stalwart host city since the race was founded in 2010. Racers gather on Friday afternoon at Riverside Park for registration and pre-race briefings that night. Free camping in the park is available for tents.
The race ends in South Sioux City, Neb. Racers have until 1 p.m. Sunday to reach each of the four checkpoints and complete the course. There are no time restrictions, within reason, to reach the checkpoints, and there is no designated overnight camping location. All racers must begin the Challenge by 7:30 a.m.
The priority of our event is safety. The Midwestern weather and the river itself will provide ample challenge. Our other goals include making the race challenging but welcoming to competitors of many skill levels. Spending time on one of the most beautiful stretches of the Missouri River is rewarding and we hope our event reminds all who take part the true importance of this waterway.
Local search and rescue, medical, law enforcement and other groups are part of the South Dakota Kayak Challenge team. Safety boat crews will patrol the waters of the course as necessary, including South Dakota, Nebraska and Iowa state officials. Emergency medical care either will be on-site or readily available during the event.
Locals cherish this American waterway and the South Dakota Kayak Challenge helps celebrates the grandeur of the river for both newcomers and veteran racers/river paddlers. Communities from start to finish provide support, volunteers, racers and financial contributions to make the race possible.
Registration costs $60 per person between Jan. 1, the opening of registration, and May 1. Thereafter, racers will pay $85 for late registrations. We will close registration on May 11. There are no refunds after May 1 or due to weather-related cancellation.
We provide a shuttle bus from the finish area in South Sioux City back to Yankton on Friday night. This service allows self-supported racers to put a vehicle in South Sioux City so it’s there when you finish. You can secure lodging in Yankton or camp in Riverside Park. There is an additional $15 fee for the shuttle (if needed) and registration for it is mandatory so that we make sure we have room and to cover costs.