By Don Mueggenborg and Sigrid Pilgrim
More picnics are spoiled by weather reports than by the weather. Forecasts had everyone concerned – rain, high winds, lightning. Instead we had a great day. Overcast early with a slight mist and headwinds to cool the paddlers down.
This was the first event after the removal of Dam # 1, with Ryerson Dam having been removed previously which meant no portages. Good current – boggy water in places but no major obstacles on the race course.
Seven hundred and seven paddlers raced, including 37 in the shorter Minithon. Paddlers came from many states including Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, Iowa, Texas and I am sure a few more states. This is the highest turnout in several years thanks to the financial support of LLBean that allowed for paid advertisements in the Canoecopia brochure, three issues in Silent Sports and online at paddling.net
This year’s postcard, patch, t-shirt and the advertisements were designed by Lynda Wallis of Freelanceillustrations.com after our long, long time designer, Cliff Beringer retired from this demanding volunteer job.
Everyone who finished the course received the coveted embroidered patch. New this year was also the inclusion of the Des Plaines River map on the back of the shirts that brought many congratulatory comments.
Fastest time of the day was Robert Hartman in the Unlimited K-1 division with a time of 2 hr 8 min. Fastest Canoe – Al Limbaugh/Barb Bradley in Masters Competition – 2:30.
Neil Hanks, paddling C-1 did the course in 2:33; Sonja Gilman/Jan Perry turned in a 2:29 in a two- person kayak. Several races were decided by seconds over the almost 19 mile course. Recreation boats finished with times ranging from 2:40 to 5 hours.
13 SUP paddlers participated with the fastest time of 3:11:45 by Wendell Martin for the entire 18.5 mile course. The largest class was Men’s K-1 Recreational Kayak with 75 finishers.
The Des Plaines River Canoe & Kayak Marathon would not be possible without the dedication of the volunteers who prepare prior to, and help out at the day of the race. Special THANK YOUs also go to the following organizations:
FOREST PRESERVES OF COOK COUNTY – for their very significant support providing financing of the shuttle buses, removing natural debris from the river, police cars and personnel for safety, the music entertainment provided by Between the Clear, the port-a-potties, picnic tables, dealing with the trash, helping with publicity, and so much more
LAKE COUNTY FOREST PRESERVES – for providing the jonboat on their section of the river, cleanup/maintenance, and police presence at the start line
R.A.C.E.S. – for having 29 people at the event to provide for emergency communication and river traffic monitoring
PADDLERS PATROL – IPC’s Paddlers Patrol wasn’t as challenged this year as last, given the much lower and slower water. Yet their presence is always most necessary as one paddler was caught by a branch on his PFD which required assistance to extricate him.
DRKOMPUTING – for providing professional timing and results posting (go to drkomputing.com for complete Race Results by Class)
THE US COAST GUARD AUXILIARY – for providing safety information and answering questions about on-water safety and preparation
So our collective THANK YOU goes out to everyone who made the event happen, to Cheesies Food Truck and their delicious cheese sandwiches and to Roy Piriano’s Hot Dog Cart, who agreed to come only 24 hours before the event, given the short-term cancellation by another vendor.
How many had a good time? Everyone – paddlers, volunteers, and organization representatives who knew that without them – this day on and off the river, camaraderie of fellow paddlers, and the spirit of competition would not have been possible.
For a more professional article of the event – please read the story published in the Daily Herald – http://www.dailyherald.com/article/20150517/news/150518861/.
Mark your calendar – the 59th Annual DPRM will take place Sunday, May 22, 2016.