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 25-26, 2019, with pre-race briefing on Friday,
May 24 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
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.
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
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.
addition to free camping in Riverside Park, Yankton is home
to a wide range of hotels. Learn more here. http://www.visityanktonsd.com/where-to-stay/
Hotel (formerly the Marina Inn) in South Sioux City is
our HQ for the finish.
is also available in South
Sioux City in addition to the wide range of Sioux City
and South Sioux City motels and hotels. http://visitsouthsiouxcity.com
The South Dakota Kayak Challenge is a 72-mile marathon-endurance
paddling race. Racers attend a safety briefing Friday night
and the race starts at 7 a.m. on Saturday. Racers must reach
the finish line before 1 p.m. on Sunday. Racers must check
in at each of four checkpoints on the route. There are no
cut-off times for the checkpoints; they are for supply, support
about checkpoint locations on “The
Course” page. All checkpoints are rolling: Racers
need not exit craft, but they are responsible for assuring
checkpoint staff have recorded them. How do I train? This
race is a “sprint distance” for veterans of marathon-endurance
paddling events, but the South Dakota Kayak Challenge has
shown, in its past years to be ... challenging.
Strong south-southeast winds are common in the area and can
lead to standing waves and arduous paddling. In addition,
a confusing channel, warm air temps, cut banks, sand bars
and recreational boat traffic in the last quarter of the race
can make it grueling. We encourage all racers to "make
it their own" and can provide transportation for anyone
who decides to stop at any point along the route.
Newcomers may scoff at the idea of finishing 72 miles in 30
hours, based on their own recreational or touring experience.
We'd encourage them to consider this example: For a kayaker
to cover 72 miles, he or she only has to average 2.3 miles
per hour to finish in the maximum time allowed. At a somewhat
typical paddling speed of 4 mph, you could cover 80 miles
in 20 hours. Our event gives you 30 hours to finish.
Some paddlers take breaks. Some stop for the night. Others
faced the challenges of night travel on the river. No matter
how you approach the SDKC, we encourage you to make it your
own. It's not impossible. But it's certainly not easy.
Extensive training is recommended. A race of more than 70
miles will challenge almost anyone. The Missouri River makes
it a true challenge in a unique location. Several Facebook
pages focus on the training needed for this event. Let us
know if you need help finding them or if you have any questions
on training methods.
Four mandatory checkpoints are set with rolling check-ins.
In addition, a mandatory pre-race meeting on Friday night
before the race will offer time for questions.
Naturally, we welcome any and all questions. Visit the contact
page, email or call us, and we’ll answer yours.