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St. Charles Canoe Club’s 44th Annual Current Buster Canoe and Kayak Race

The St. Charles Canoe Club will host its 44th annual Current Buster Canoe and Kayak Race.  This long-standing iconic event will take place on May 7th, and has seen local, regional, national, and Olympic champions, as well as “first time” paddlers to the beautiful Fox River Valley.  Starting at Pottawatomie Park near downtown St. Charles, the race is nine miles long, four and a half miles upstream and four and a half back, with unique “S” curve buoy turns at the finish line area.

For the “relaxed racer,” there is a shorter six mile course up and back; don’t be afraid of the upstream part, because you can paddle near the shore line where there is hardly any current, making for an easy passage.  C1 and K1 races are in the morning and C2, as well as rec. kayaks and canoes in the afternoon.

See our web page for more detail: http://www.stcharlescanoeclub.com/.  You can also find us on facebook.

So, don’t be afraid – come on out and enjoy the Fox River.  This is also a good way to get ready for the Des Plaines and Mid-American canoe races later.

Karl Teske – St. Charles Canoe Club

Check Out the New Website for the Des Plaines River Canoe and Kayak Marathon

Our new webmaster has updated the website and it will be continually updated throughout the year (personally, I think she is doing a good job – Don).

Thanks to George Jaros who handled our website for many years.  We appreciate your fine work, George.

SAVE THE DATE

The 60TH ANNUAL DES PLAINES RIVER CANOE AND KAYAK MARATHON will be held Sunday, May 21.  Registration opens March 1.   Go to Canoemarathon.com for more information, including registration forms and online registration.

Check out photos from past marathons (photos copyright © 2007 by Cliff Doll):

Ralph Frese and daughter

 

‘”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

Dragon Boat Racing Returns to the South Side

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Chicago Southland Dragon Boat Festival Debuts New Location, Craft Beer Village, and More

BLUE ISLAND, ILLINOIS, February 15, 2017 — Dragon Boat racing is back in Blue Island this summer, with a new, larger venue, more events, and some great additions like craft beer, food, merchandise, and more. The 2nd Annual Chicago Southland Dragon Boat Festival is scheduled for June 1-3, 2017, at the MWRD Waterfall Park along the Cal-Sag. This year’s festival also includes welcome receptions at Rock Island Public House and Double Play Saloon the evenings of June 1 and 2 after team practices, and an after-party June 3 at The Blue Island Beer Company.

“Last year, we fell in love with the atmosphere surrounding the first dragon boat festival hosted here on the south side,” says festival organizer Kevin Brown. “It’s so much more than a great day on the water. It’s a celebration of sport, community, and fun, interesting people. We also loved that newcomers to the sport can compete with little training or instruction – if you can paddle, you can race in a dragon boat!”

Brown says finding a new site was necessary to expand the event, and to better accommodate festival attendees with amenities like public transit access, abundant, free parking, and multiple food and drink options.

“We’re thrilled to be partnering with the MWRD, City of Blue Island administration, police and fire, the U.S. Coast Guard, Metra, and so many incredible local businesses and organizations to make this festival location a reality,” says Brown. “Paddlers and spectators will be blown away by the incredible views of the races from sites like the new Chatham Street pedestrian bridge – part of the forthcoming Cal-Sag trail connection through Blue Island – as well as the proximity to Blue Island’s beautiful historic uptown, and all that Olde Western avenue has to offer.”

Individual and team registration is underway at www.chicagodragonboats.com, as well as a description of available festival sponsorship opportunities – many of which include team entries for businesses and the community organization, school, or church of their selection.

“We’ve structured this event to highlight what we feel is the most exciting thing dragon boat racing brings to our communities,” says Brown. “Dragon boat racing is about pride, it’s about inclusivity, it’s about teambuilding and communication skills, being outside and being physical – and almost anyone can do it.”

About the 2nd Annual Chicago Southland Dragon Boat Festival

Date: Thursday June 1, Friday June 2, and Saturday June 3, 2017

Time: Practice Sessions: 4-8 pm Thursday and Friday, Dragon Boat Races: Saturday: 8:00 am – 6:00 pm

Location: MWRD SEPA Waterfall & Park along the Cal-Sag, Blue Island, IL

Description: The Chicago Southland Dragon Boat Festival caters to a variety of groups, including businesses, organizations, churches, families, competitive sports enthusiasts, and those who crave outdoor summer activity on a stunning dragon boat regatta course. Personal satisfaction, team development, and friendship are among the many benefits participants experience, and many companies, organizations, and schools have found that the social atmosphere and teambuilding aspects of dragon boat racing assist with ongoing constructive communication for their employees, members, and students.

Thursday and Friday’s activities include team practice sessions with instructors from Great White North Dragon Boat Racing (GWN), as well as a team welcome reception at Rock Island Public House. GWN also provides the dragon boats, paddles, and life jackets for participants.

Saturday’s activities include the dragon boat races, awards ceremony, craft beer village featuring the Southland’s best food and craft beer, and after party at the Blue Island Beer Company.

For more information on the 2nd Annual Chicago Southland Dragon Boat Festival, to register as an individual or team, or to explore sponsorship opportunities, please visit www.chicagodragonboats.com.

Contact:

Kevin & Sara Brown

Chicago Southland Dragon Boat Festival

219-895-0437 or kevin@chicagodragonboats.com

Mark Your Calendars – May 21, 2017 – The 60TH Annual Des Plaines River Canoe & Kayak Marathon

For the first time in event history – the river is free flowing – no more portaging dams!

Check out the pictures from the 2016 event (below) – great paddling, great food, great music, and great cameraderie – be part of a tradition – and make it your tradition.

For more information – check out www.canoemarathon.com

2017 Marathon flyer: DPM

2016 Marathon photos:

1. Music to Entertain
2. Pizzas in the Wood Oven
3. Pizza Options
4. Or Sandwiches
5. Fun Lunch
6. Valued Sponsor
7. The T-shirt Tent
8. Keeping Boats Safe
9. Inside the Canoe Corral
10. Coast Guard Station
11. Boat Numbers are a MUST
12. Guidance to t-shirts and patches
13. Checking the score board
14. Emergency help just in case
15. Finally done
16. Near the Takeout
17. Reading the Boat Numbers
18. Scoring the Finishers
19. The Course
20. The Finish Line
22. All done paddling – takeout
23. Race Head Quarters
24. Thank you all for hall
25. Dangers of Dams
26. Thank you Forest Preserves of Cook County
27. Trophies waiting for their recipients
29. Announcing the winners
30. Some winners
31. The Score Board
32. One of the best

 

Calling / Requesting / Soliciting All Paddlesport Event Organizers

With this year’s paddling season drawing to a close – except for some die-hard paddlers that love breaking ice – it is time to think about next year.

IPC has an events calendar where we list all paddlesports-related events we become aware of. This also helps in promoting your event(s).

If you are a paddlesport event organizer, or know someone who is – whether a competition/race, a river cleanup, a paddling festival or any other event involving paddlesport – canoe/kayak/SUP/raft- on a river, lake,  bayou (ok – we may not have some here in Illinois) – please forward such information to

news@illinoispaddling.org – or to spconsult@comcast.net

We would like to compile a master list for next year’s events to publish in upcoming newsletters with details (so include background on – and details of – the event). Hopefully, we can also avoid having major events take place on the same weekend.

If you have any questions, please forward these to spconsult@comcast.net

Thank you – Sigrid Pilgrim, Director, PR & Marketing

2016 Des Plaines River Canoe And Kayak (& SUP) Marathon

P1010036
Studying the race result board

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 info@canoemarathon.com (contact me at donmuegg@at.net)

Two lucky winners
Two lucky winners
Brick oven pizza: For hungry paddlers at the finish
Brick oven pizza: For hungry paddlers at the finish

Kankakee River – Latest National Waterway

By Don Mueggenborg 

It took a while, but the Kankakee has been named a National Waterway.

The process started about 10,000 years ago when the melting glacier broke through the moraines holding it back from Lake Erie (wasn’t called Lake Erie then). A wall of water surged forward, carving out a wide valley and leaving a great wetland.

The wetland attacked many forms of wildlife – called by some the “Everglades of the North.” Through this wetland flowed a river. The natives called it the Aukiki or Theatiki or Kankakee.

The river flowed through Indiana and Illinois. A beautiful stream, clear water.

In the 1600’s and 1700’s, Voyageurs used the river as a highway. LaSalle and Tonti used this river as a main route between Montreal and Mackinaw Island to the Illinois River. A short, flat portage at South Bend the only obstacle, it would have been a national waterway, but we had no nation. Later in Indiana, it would become a hunting favorite for Presidents and dignitaries from Europe. In Illinois, the backwaters housed bank robbers and horse thieves.

Now, another 100 years later, the Kankakee River has been named a National Waterway. Most of the channelized portions in Indiana have been taken over by nature. Wooded banks, beaver, fish, deer and a good river to paddle. In Illinois, where the river was not channelized, there are more bends, and a faster current.

Unlike some major rivers, the Kankakee does not flow through many major urban areas, so it is often tree lined and natural.

I have paddled sections of the Kankakee in Indiana and the length of the river in Illinois.

Fun, scenic with public access points close enough to make a pleasant trip. As the river flows into Illinois, the current increases. Immediately, the river bends and curves.

My favorite section is above Momence. A paddle to the state line and back might take three hours – but if you start at the state line (car shuttle), it is a fast, good trip. The river meanders and bends, and sand bars at the bends will take up ½ the river. Read the river and enjoy.

The most popular section is from Bird Park in Kankakee to Warner Bridge, Kankakee State Park. Canoes, tubers float past. Some river reading will keep your feet dry. Neat island and sandstone cliffs along the way.

You can paddle the whole length of the river in both Indiana and Illinois. There are frequent public access sites.

CAUTION: Some laws you should observe.

Momence – no canoes on the island (access on east side of island)

Kankakee – you cannot portage at the dam (portage at the park a block or so before the dam – river left)

Wilmington – you cannot portage the dam (run the mill race river right and then portage down the hill)

The Kankakee meets the Des Plaines at Dresden, and becomes the Illinois River.

KANKAKEE RIVER MEMORY

Shortly after we started canoe racing, my friend Dave (Peanut Butter) heard about a race on the Kankakee in Indiana. No racing canoes.

We brought our Sawyer Cruiser and immediately saw that we were in a different class than most of the boats. Aluminum canoes with young men in their late teens and early twenties were our competition.

A local “Boys” club had bought a voyageur canoe and were hoping to raise some money to pay off the purchase. The young men were either part of the club or alumni.

A la mans start – run across the parking lot – left us way behind. Shortly after the start, a boat dumped. We helped them and their canoe to shore, paddled downstream, and returned with their paddles. And within twenty minutes or so, we had passed everyone.

We were actually embarrassed, but apparently the spectators were not. At each bridge, spectators asked my wife, our pit crew, if the “old men” had come by yet (we were in our 40s). We would wait around bends for the other canoes so we did not finish too far ahead.

The finish was under a bridge on a rural road. A flat grassy area at the take-out.

1st place was a cash prize – $100. I took it, gave it to Dave, who counted it and gave it to the race sponsor.

BUT – THAT IS NOT THE END OF THE STORY.

Several years later, there was a re-enactment at the Kankakee Marsh County Park.

Things had changed – that rural road and grassy spot was now a nice county spot in the restored wetlands. Way to go, Indiana!

I saw a Park Ranger – a young man. “Years ago, there was a race on the river that ended here. Do they still have the race?” I asked.

The ranger replied. “We only held it one year and two old guys whipped us good!”

Then he added – “You’re one of them!”

And I felt good, not that he recognized me, but that one of the boys was now working as a park ranger to help preserve the river and wetlands, and that the state and county were working to preserve the area for the future.

 

Try Racing a Dragon

Some years ago, friends invited me to try Racing a Dragon! I’ve never paddled so hard in all my life. It took our team a total of 94 seconds to paddle the 300 meter course! The winning team did it in 20 seconds less! Dragon boat racing has its origin 2000 years ago when the poet warrior Chu Yuan threw himself into the Milo River. His devoted followers rushed to find his body, beating the drum to scare away the fish.

If you don’t feel like racing the dragon – go as a spectator – it’s a great show.

Enjoy – Sigrid 

https://www.panamdragonboat.com/races/chicago-southland-dragon-boat-festival-blue-island-il/