By Don Mueggenburg
FIFTY-NINE 59 FIFTY-NINE 59 FIFTY-NINE
YEARS FOR THE DES PLAINES RIVER CANOE, KAYAK, SUP MARATHON
(I’ll bet even Ralph didn’t envision the race lasting this long.)
After a spring of November-like weather, the sunshine gods smiled on us. An almost perfect day (a perfect day would have seen my partner and I set a record time and win that “little man”). Water levels were good – not too fast as to be a danger to the less experienced – but quick enough for excellent finish times. In fact, the last boat was off the water almost an hour sooner than some other years.
No dams to portage, few, if any, spots to scrape the bottom of your boat. A gentle breeze kept us from getting overheated. After the race, there was good music and good food and the good fellowship of fellow paddlers– a good day for a picnic (and I especially enjoyed my friend Steve’s turkey – he is a master turkey chef).
Each year, we support an organization in some charitable endeavor that has to do with the river or with paddling. This year, over $300 was raised by our participants for the Chicago Voyageurs, an organization that helps at-risk youth with outdoor adventures. We also invited some of the boys to paddle the minithon (no cost to them, of course) with their sponsors.
By the numbers –
About 650 people started the long race
Approximately 75 started the short race
Very few did not finish – maybe 10 boats
Robert Hartman of Holland, MI, had the fastest time – 2 hours 5 minutes in the Unlimited Kayak division, followed by Kiril Floriv of Countryside, IL, in kayak in the Open division, with a time of 2:14.
Fastest canoe was the team of Mark Koenig, Woodstock, IL, and Fritz Hansen, Burlington, WI, with a time of 2:22, followed by Neil Weisner-Hanks and Beth Schlueter, Oconomowoc, WI, at 2:24.
Mike Brumbaugh of Roseville, MN, finished the SUP in 2:47.
The largest class was the Men’s recreational Kayak, with 89 kayaks finishing the race. (There were additional recreational Kayaks in the Open and No Contest, as well as in the minithon.)
Ages – the oldest was listed as 127 and the youngest as 1 – I don’t think the 1-year-old paddled and the 127-year-old only felt like it after the race. There were at least five paddlers in their 80s who finished the race, with James Des Jardins the eldest at 86.
Eric Luth made his annual pilgrimage from Arizona, the furthest traveler.
Thanks to everyone who helped put on this event. The committee who met every month putting things together, the start line chair and his volunteers, the finish line volunteers, The RACES who supplied us with radio communications and spotters along the river, the Cook County and Lake County Forest Preserves for all their help.
But I want to recognize Everett Andrus and Eric Velasco who sat out in the hot sun all day spotting boats at the finish line. Maybe the toughest job of the day.
THANKS TO EVERYONE – SEE YOU AT NUMBER 60 in 2017: Sunday May 21.
(NOTE: We could really use a few more volunteers on race day – work at the start line, help the starter, spotters at the finish line to name a few. The board also welcomes input from participants and spectators. Please contact Jack Snarr or Al Pilgrim via the hotline, 847-604-2445, or email email@example.com (contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org)