2008 DesPlaines River Canoe Marathon

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2008 DesPlaines River Canoe Marathon

Postby rich on Mon May 19, 2008 8:13 pm

What a fun race, I'm definitely doing this again next year!

I started off late due to the shuttle bus taking longer than expected and as such I was the last person to enter the race. The last heat started probably 10-15 minutes before I did and it took me a whopping 30-45 minutes to catch up to anyone. Up until that point I had the river to myself and there was no sign of the 500+ people that had just run the river before me.

The first people I encountered were two gentleman in a red coleman canoe. It was great to see them and they offered encouragement that I would actually finish the race. They were last years last place finishers so they definitely knew what they were talking about. After chatting with them for a bit I continued on, wondering if I would see anyone else or be alone again for the remaining 16-17 miles.

I pushed myself but not too hard, taking only a short break for about 5 minutes at the Ryerson Dam (see pics below). For the times I was paddling solo I concentrated on improving my forward stroke -using proper torso rotation, flicking the blade out of the water efficiently, etc...

For much of the trip I kept running into a team of 3 paddling a canoe -two boyscouts and one of their fathers. They kept a decent pace very similar to my own and so we kept leap frogging each other for several miles. The boys were 10 and 11 and were helping paddle and were having a great time -this after being on the water for several hours already. Another pair of paddlers I ran into several times where a couple young guys in their early twenties. I first encountered them after running the 2nd dam, the Wright Forest Preserve Dam. They were on river right dumping out their canoe after having capsized going over the dam. I ran into them again later and they mentioned that that was their 2nd swim -apparently they had capsized going over the Hollister dam as well. Fortunately these two dams were pretty small.

For the last leg of the trip on through to the finish line I was paddling with a couple guys in their mid 30's paddling an aluminum canoe. We got to talking about the New Years Day paddle and I found out that one of them was one of the unfortunate souls to have capsized after going over a submerged log and having a CASKA member help rescue them and their boat from the freezing water. He said that despite not being able to finish the New Years paddle due to extreme cold it was a beautiful trip and he highly recommends it. He said he would be doing it again next year.

We finished at 4:14 and so it took me about 5 hours to complete. This section of the DesPlaines was very nice with a slightly wild feel to it, some photos can be seen below.

Also, checkout the report for this event from the Daily Herald. The reporter interviewed me before the race and wrote a short bit about me with a quote!

Until Next Year!!!

One or two miles north of Rt. 60. During late summer this area is a wonderful savanna.

Fallen trees creating a canopy is a common sight on the Des Plaines, showing signs of the flood conditions that only recently subsided.

The very muddy portage at Ryerson dam.

Ryerson Dam - a mandatory portage.

Race coordinator Jack Snarr announcing the winners.
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