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‘”Just Plain People” Canoe Races

By Don Mueggenborg

  • Des Plaines River Canoe/Kayak Marathon (and SUP)
  • Mid-America Canoe Race

Just plain people who like to paddle – that’s what most of us are.

(That’s how I started paddling the Des Plaines Marathon almost 50 years ago – has it really been that long? It was fun.  I was hooked.)

Sure, there are the “racers” who go so fast their wake will knock you over; they leave a cloud of steam as they pass (well, not really).  Their vocabulary is one word – “hut.”  Their canoes are ugly black.  Their kayak paddles look like windmills when they really gear up.

But most of us are just plain people, and the DES PLAINES RIVER CANOE AND KAYAK MARATHON (AND SUP’s) AND THE MID-AMERICA CANOE RACE are geared to these just plain people.

We race, not to win (well – maybe to hope to win or at least, beat someone), but to have fun.

Imagine, paddling with 1,000 other people who love the rivers as much as you do.  The camaraderie: not only on the river, but at the start line, and especially after the race.

Imagine taking the whole family out, dividing up into a couple canoes and kayaks, and then trying to beat each other (men, don’t get mad when your wife beats you – it happens).  Race against your brother –in- law or your neighbor – or with your neighbor.

Imagine setting a goal – can you race the 20 or 10 miles?  Can you beat your time from last year?  Sweat a little (or a lot) – bring fluids (non-alcohol).

Or just paddle the short course for the fun of it.

Imagine getting that fancy patch and wearing that great t-shirt.  You will strut around town showing it off.

After the race, stay and have some lunch (good food vendors) and sit around and tell “war stories.”  Talk with those “racers,” get some hints, share the day (most racers love to talk about paddling).

Go to Canoemarathon.com for the May 21st Des Plaines Marathon (Libertyville to Dam # 2, Mt Prospect; Deerfield Rd to Dam # 2 for the mini-thon).

Fox Valley Park District for the Mid-Am – first Sunday in June (St. Charles to Aurora; Batavia to Aurora – short race).

Canoe rentals available – see the website: http://www.foxvalleyparkdistrict.org/event/mid-america-canoe-kayak-race/

Try it, you’ll like it!  Check out photos from past Des Plaines Marathons (photos copyright © 2007 by Cliff Doll):

Ralph Frese and daughter

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