Whalechaser's Musings

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Monday, May 19, 2008

51st Des Plaines Canoe Marathon

The Des Plaines River Canoe Marathon, founded in 1957 by Ralph Frese, (see picture below)this year he was providing canoes for the paddlers instead of participating in the marathon.

It is the second oldest continual canoe race in the United States. The race is 18½ miles on the beautiful and historic Des Plaines River. There are numerous classes to accommodate people of all ages and levels. Everyone is welcome to participate. First time participants, repeat paddlers, and serious competitors can all enjoy the excitement, challenge, and camaraderie that this historic event provides.

Chuck and I participated in the marathon this year; not in any particular class we just did it for fun. I wasn't too worried about the mileage, since I have spent more than a few days in the last year paddling more than twenty miles in a day and felt pretty good about my ability.
Here is Chuck and Hugh, a fellow we met during our February-March trip to Florida this year
Here is Chuck trying to do a good imitation of patience among the widespread chaos prior to our launch.

At the three quarter mark I began to realize that this particular river has very little current, which means one literally has to paddle to go forward..that was something I was not quite ready for. We did complete the entire route, but I was more tired than I expected. There was a fellow at the final take out (which entailed a steep bank) who grabbed the canoe from me and said he would bring it up topside. I normally would have protested but gave quiet thanks for this very special gift!

It was the first time I had ever done anything like this. So a few things caught my eye. Like the many different types of canoes and clothing

and the chaos at the beginning was really something to behold

Things got much better once we got under way and the crowd thinned out. Here is a shot I got of Chuck by just turning the camera backwards and aiming towards the back of the canoe...not back for not being able to see anything.

Here we are at the second portage; we had to carry our canoe around two dams in the river. We went over two others..both without capsizing!
This was a very happy sight to see! Another great day on the river!

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