It is officially here! This past weekend the race season officially kicked off in Michigan and New England with the Klondike Challenge and Ware River Icebreaker Race. This upcoming weekend there are races in Florida, Massachusetts and New York. It is an exciting time of the year as we start to get a glimpse of who stayed in shape during the off season and who didn't. It is also a good time to see if their is some new talent that will be immerging this season and we can start to see some matchups that will pan out the remainder of the season.
In New England there was the Ware River Icebreaker Race that is an 7-8 mile race and had a total of 12 C2's (6 men, 4 mixed, 2 jr/sr) and 7 C1's (1 women, 6 men). Adam Gelinas and Jack Mose edged out Rod Mclain and Stephen Miller by 1 min 36 secs in the Men's division and Mary Hamilton and Tim Garland had an impressive win over Emma Ellsworth and Dennis Carey by 6mins 34 secs in the Mixed division. Tom Ellsworth took the overall fastest C1 time of 1:21:29 and Pam Fitzgerald took home the 4th fastest overall C1 time of 1:25:07 and was the only female C1. Congratulations to all of the winners but especially Adam Gelinas that captured his 5th consecutive victory for this race.
In Michigan they started their year off with the Klondike Challenge. This race had a total of 15 C2's and 14 C1's. The victors in the C2 division were Kyle Stonehouse and Wes Dean over Mike Davis and Pete Mead. Third place C2 was Bruce Barton and Matt Meersman and 4th overall was the mixed champions of Weston Willoughby and Mary Schlimmer. We already know Mike Davis and Kyle Stonehouse are paired up for the Clinton so this result with them taking home the top 2 spots seems very promising for the duo. It also looks like Wes Dean has put his hat in the Clinton and is currently signed up with Logan Mynar from Texas. This is another interesting matchup that should get some attention coming the end of May.
In the C1 class Daniel Medina took home the fastest time of the day and Rebecca Davis was the fastest female and 2nd fastest overall. It looks like another year where Rebecca is ready to assert her dominance over the female field of athletes but will be interesting to see if Mary will be able to challenge her come Canton Canoe Weekend in a couple of weeks.
This upcoming weekend is the River Rat Race in Athol, Mass. This race has been going on for 55 years and is an exciting event due to the turnout and the structure to the event. Your starting position is picked by raffle on Friday night and based on your number you start in that position on the bank of the river. With normally around 300 boats the gun goes off and all boats head down stream to Orange, MA for the finish. With many of the participants not normal paddlers there are much more hazards than your typical race which makes this race one of the more unique and fun experiences out there. Another unique feature of this race is the max length of canoes being 18ft making the normal 3x27 pro boats illegal as they are 18.5ft in length. On Sunday there will be a more traditional Pro-Am race where normal racing boats are allowed and price purse will be paid out.
This weekend we will see more races come out for their first race of the season and the picture of what the upcoming triple crown races will start to emerge a little more. Stay tuned for more updates throughout the season!