Tuesday, May 22, 2012
55th Annual Des Plaines River Canoe Marathon
We made it out the the 55th Annual Des Plaines River Canoe Marathon this past weekend. This was our first race and we had a blast. I was nervous getting out there, not knowing how it all worked. I didn't want to be the "new guy" that didn't know what was going on. It was so easy to fall into the groove of the race. The organizers and volunteers were very helpful and it was run very smoothly. There was almost no chance of a participant goofing up.
We got to the start line and unloaded about 2 hours before our start time, but by the time we parked the truck at the finish (half hour drive down river), jumped the 2 shuttles back to the start, got our number on the boat, it was time to hit the water and sit in the staging area.
The volunteers and other paddlers were very helpful in getting everyone ready to start. The put in process and staging area were way less confusing than I was expecting. We inched our way to the start and when our number was called, we grabbed the starting rope and waited. 30 seconds to start.....10 seconds......5..4..3..2..1.......GO!
We had started out 18.5 mile adventure down the Des Plaines river. Our longest paddle trip to this date was the trip down Nippersink Creek at about 16 miles. We kept a pretty good pace on this trip though. While we enjoyed the scenery and chatting with other paddlers, we were racing the clock to the finish line. We paddled strong.
We rode over a couple of the dams and portaged at the mandatory take out. There were volunteers at each dam to make sure that you made it over with out issue. It was nice to have the support. We had never shot a dam before so it was comforting to see a helping hand standing there waiting for you.
The last 3-4 miles were the toughest. The wind was headed right at us and with the wide open turns in that section, we got spun around a couple times. Fighting the wind slowed us down at the end, but we teamed up and finished strong. It was a great feeling to paddle across the line with my daughter. It may have been because I was so drained from the 5 hour paddle, but I got a little teary eyed when we paddled across the line and were welcomed at the take out. It was a great memory that we had just shared. I am so proud that we completed it together and can't wait till next year!