By Sigrid Pilgrim
After being at flood stage barely a week before the race, the river dropped to less than 3 feet, making the former Ryerson Dam, rechristened the Ryerson Ripple a shallow hazard for any kayak or SUP with a fixed rudder or fin. So paddlers were urged to portage at a wide soft muddy flat! But rescue came thanks to volunteers who placed the red, gray and brown carpets, much appreciated by all who used them.
777 paddlers and passengers started the 18.5 mile or the 5.25 mile courses – both of which were threatened just 48 hours before by a major log jam across the whole river. Thanks to the combined effort of the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Chicago, the Illinois Department of Transportation and expedited by the Forest Preserves of Cook County, the race was able to be held.
There are way too many volunteers to thank who are making this event possible. So I’d like to revert back to an article that I wrote a few years ago: What it takes to put on the Marathon
But when the wonderful comments from the participants come in, it’s all worth the effort. Here are just a few that race organizers received.
- After my 5am paddle of the course on race day to ensure that the previous evening’s storms had not downed a new tree, I was at the Ryerson portage all day until the last boats came through. Then we swept the stragglers through to the finish line, with one exhausted paddler saying “I’ll do it all over again” – Gareth Stevens.
- Thank you for this great canoe race and thank you for the opportunity to be part of the many canoe and kayak participants. It is big privilege for me to be competitor in one of the oldest canoe races in North America. Please accept this small donation. Kiril Florov.
- Hans and Fritz Zimmerman have the boat number equal to their number of years raced each year. This year they were number 46.
- Oldest racer was Ed Hahn at 83yrs 5 months (beat Don Mueggenborg by 5 months).
- Youngest (did not actually paddle) was1. Several 7 year olds were registered as paddler number two.
- A paddler named John has done the race 20 times and celebrated his 60th birthday by racing boat number 60 in the 60th annual running.
- Several long time participants volunteered to help on race day. Many work at the Start Line until the last few heats, when they get in their boats and run the river.
- And one more comment: “If I had a bucket list – this event would be on it”.
And for the 61st Annual Des Plaines River Canoe & Kayak Marathon – May 20, 2018
The 2 Hour barrier has yet to be broken
For all race results go to www.canoemarathon.com