By Caleb Grover, Contributing Writer
The Sandy River Canoe and Kayak Race and Fun Paddle is being held on April 30 by Mainely Outdoors and is open to community members, high school and college students.
The race allows people to enjoy the outdoors and make good memories with their friends. “This race provides a great outdoor recreation opportunity,” said Jim Toner, director of the FRC and Mainely Outdoors program. “This is something most people probably wouldn’t do on their own, so it allows people to get out and enjoy the great outdoors with their friends.”
The race attracts people of all skill levels. Competitive kayak racers who are in MaCKRO (Maine Canoe and Kayak Racing Organization) participate in the event as a part of their circuit of races across Maine. The Mt. Blue High School outing club and the UMF Outing Club have both participated in the race, as well as many community members, of all ages and professions.
Although all of the water is either class 1 or 2, the river still provides a few challenges for the participants. Last year low water levels led to a rockier, shallower river than normal, which was due to a lack of snow. This made strategy more important than ever. “There is a foot drop off in the last mile of the race, and only a few good places to get down it depending on the water levels said Toner. “It’s all about picking your channels though.”
The race is run in heats, people of like skill level are put together. Fun paddlers go together and the competitive racers go together. “It allows the racers to go as fast as they want without having to paddle around slower people, and it lets the people who are there to fun paddle not to feel rushed,” said Toner.
Avery Isbell, a sophomore and elementary education major, worked in last year’s race as a sweep kayak. Sweep kayaks follow behind the last person in the given heat, to make sure nobody gets left behind or put in a dangerous position by themselves. “It’s something fun and new for people to try in a very safe environment, with people who are trained and experienced always nearby,” said Isbell.
“Be prepared with warm clothes just in case you get wet,” said Isbell. “The water is typically very cold in April.”
The race starts at 1:00 p.m. on April 30 by the American Legion in Strong. Registration on race day runs from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and the pre-race meeting is at 12:30 p.m.. People interested in participating can also register beforehand at the FRC. Registration is $10.00 per person, and $5.00 for UMF students. For any questions, contact Jim Toner.