Three Rivers Fest Race July 21, 2018
Neither rain, nor cool air, nor gloom of overcast would keep 15 intrepid paddlers from their appointed rounds at the Fort Wayne Three Rivers Festival Canoe & Kayak Races this weekend. They came from near (right in Fort Wayne) and far (Cincinnati Ohio & Southern IN), but all agreed that the 71 or so degree temperatures coupled with a light drizzle/rain was actually the ideal conditions for a race (although not so much for viewer participation…) Starting at the Johnny Appleseed Park boat ramp right below the dam on the St. Joe River, paddlers headed downstream to the confluence of the three rivers, headed left onto the Maumee River, circled the next bridge and headed back to the confluence where they again went left, this time onto the St. Mary River. Circling the Martin Luther King bridge, paddlers headed back to the confluence, again turned left, and returned up the St. Joe River back to the boat ramp.
Water levels were nice, with just a very moderate current. A fair amount of natural debris (sticks, logs, etc.) in some locations from the recent heavy rains gave rise to a few slalom maneuvers, but most navigated the course with little difficulty. Most. As in not all. Roger Crisp was enjoying the expanded performance of his recently acquired Stellar S18R kayak, running right with Deb Kanost, when a cramp in his back forced him to back off and work it out. Back on course in a bit, he continued without further cramping issues, but it appears one of our trees overhanging the river got a bit of paddle envy and stole Roger’s paddle right out of his hands! Figuring that discretion is the better part of valor, and not being inclined to sample the murky waters of the St. Joe, Roger let the tree fondle the paddle for a moment while he stabilized, hand-paddled back to the tree, and took back what was rightfully his! Thereafter no trees dare to confront Roger again.
Paddle loss wasn’t just confined to Roger; the C2 team of Kelly Harrington (back racing again!) and Lia Beatty saw the river try to take Lia’s paddle. I don’t have the full story there, but needless to say they managed to get their paddle back and return to port otherwise without incident.
Tom Thomas, figuring if a little is good a lot must be better, decided to sample the St. Joe in its fullness and headed into the river for a cool dip after apparently hitting something with his paddle. It took a couple of tries to get all the water out of his C1, but he arrived back thoroughly refreshed.
John Christensen rejoined us after being away for a few years, giving Brent Ernsberger some much needed competition in Down River kayak. We were also honored to have Roland Muhlen join Tom Thomas at our race, making certain Bill Kanost couldn’t slack off. Ironically, an RPM – Roland’s boat design – changed hands before the race when Lori Blaylock sold one of her RPM’s to Brent Ernsberger, but both Down River paddlers were using somewhat older designs.
Sea Kayak competition became intense between Deb Kanost and Matt Conrad. Matt waked Deb much of the way, although Deb waked Matt some of the time as well, but near the finish line Matt started paddling furiously and pulled ahead for the win. Matt’s definitely got some power there!
It was great having two C2’s on the course today, with Kelly and Lia giving George and Hilman some solid competition.
In K1 Open, Ted Beatty showed who’s boss with a blistering run in the Kirton ICF boat he paddled (Kelly Harrington’s boat, I believe). Averaging just over 7 mph, there was no way I was keeping up with Ted in that little speedster (and I had a pretty good run myself). I think Ted needs to be required to add 50 or so lbs to his boat just to even things up…
Lori Blaylock had a good race, but her focus was really on this coming weekend, when she and Kelly Harrington are headed to the Boundary Waters for a week of paddling, camping, and just enjoying some awesome natural beauty. Probably a bit cleaner than the St. Joe River, although you never know what those critters are doing in the water…
Many thanks to friend Peter Flohr for helping my wife Julie time the race, and to Julie for preparing the certificates for each paddler (along with a goody bag for each class winner and the two longest-distance travelers). Julie noticed Brent Ernsberger was wearing his 2011 Newaygo Nationals shirt – the Nationals where he got rained out of his campsite. Kind of appropriate on a rainy day race!
Many thanks to all who came an made an enjoyable race out of a rainy day! A round of 5-Guys burgers and fries took care of the appetite needs of a few of us following the race. See you all next week at the Mill Creek / Fish Lake Race!
1st Ted Beatty 1:07:19
2nd Steven Horney 1:13:00
1st Bill Kanost 1:14:53
2nd Roland Muhlen 1:17:15
3rd Tom Thomas 1:20:54
K1 Sea Kayak Man
1st Matt Conrad 1:21:06
2nd Roger Crisp 1:25:10
K1 Sea Kayak Woman
1st Deb Kanost 1:21:12
2nd Lori Blaylock 1:26:47
K1 Down River
1st Brent Ernsberger 1:25:12
2nd John Christensen 1:29:10
1st Lia Beatty / Kelly Harrington 1:31:35
1st George Tinsley / Hilman Culp 1:32:32