Ch­ester res­i­dents join 70-mile ca­noe race

Record Observer - - Community - By JACK SHAUM jshaum@kibay­

CH­ESTER — How does the idea of a ca­noe race 70 miles long strike you?

For Harold Wilson and Alex Bech­told of Ch­ester, it’s a chal­lenge — a chal­lenge they’ve taken on sev­eral times in the past, and which they’ll take on again on Me­mo­rial Day this year.

The event is the Gen­eral Clin­ton Ca­noe Re­gatta on the Susque­hanna River be­tween Coop­er­stown, N.Y. and Bain­bridge, N.Y., a four-day event now in its 54th year that at­tracts as many as 3,000 pad­dlers each year. The 70-mile trek on Me­mo­rial Day is de­scribed as the long­est sin­gle-day flat wa­ter race in the world, ac­cord­ing to Wilson.

The re­gatta is named in honor of Gen. James Clin­ton, who, along with Gen. John Sul­li­van, led the Rev­o­lu­tion­ary War “Sul­li­van-Clin­ton Ex­pe­di­tion” of 1779 down the Susque­hanna River against loy­al­ists and four in­dian tribes that he had sided with the Bri­tish

“Alex and I will be the only peo­ple from Kent Is­land en­tered in the race,” Wilson said. “I am 79, have done the race seven times, and my part­ner is 24 and has done the en­durance race three times.” This will be the se­cond year they’ve worked to­gether as a team on the big race, hav­ing pad­dled with other partners in the past.

“It’s a blast, and I can’t wait to chal­lenge that river again,” said Bech­told, who owns the Lit­tle Creek Kung Fu Stu­dio in Ch­ester. “The race is gru­el­ing, and the train­ing is to­tally bru­tal.”

Wilson said he be­lieves he is one of the old­est com­peti­tors in the race and he calls it a “real chal­lenge.”

The two have trained to­gether on Kir­wan Creek on Kent Is­land, and Wilson said that hav­ing Bech­told in the bow of the ca­noe dur­ing train­ing “is like hav­ing an Ev­in­rude up there for the ten hours I ex­pect the race to take us.” He said that be­cause of his oc­cu­pa­tion, Bech­told is “al­ready in great shape.”

Wilson is a writer, hav­ing re­cently pub­lished his se­cond novel en­ti­tled “A Taste of Salt.” He also hosts two pro­grams on Del­marva Pub­lic Ra­dio in Sal­is­bury.

Be­sides the Gen­eral Clin­ton event, Wilson and Bech­told have taken part in sev­eral other ca­noe re­gat­tas closer to home. Among them is the seven-mile race dur­ing the Nan­ti­coke River­fest held in Seaford, Del., and the nine-mile Del­marva Pad­dlers Re­treat on the Broad­kill River be­tween Lewes and Mil­ton, Del. They have also par­tic­i­pated in a 13-mile ca­noe race on the Mono­cacy River in Fred­er­ick County.


Alex Bech­told, left, and Harold Wilson, right, in their ca­noe dur­ing an ear­lier Gen­eral Clin­ton Ca­noe Re­gatta.

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