Ch­ester pad­dlers com­plete 70-mile ca­noe race in New York

Record Observer - - News - By JACK SHAUM jshaum@kibay­times.com

CH­ESTER — Hal Wil­son and Alex Bech­told of Ch­ester re­turned home re­cently af­ter tak­ing part in the an­nual Gen­eral Clin­ton Ca­noe Re­gatta on the Susque­hanna River be­tween Cooperstown, N.Y. and Bain­bridge, N.Y.

It’s a 70-mile ca­noe race that takes place each Me­mo­rial Day and of­ten at­tracts as many as 3,000 pad­dlers from all over. It’s be­lieved to be the long­est sin­gle-day flat wa­ter race in the world, Wil­son said. They were the only par­tic­i­pants from Kent Is­land. A pre­view of their par­tic­i­pa­tion in this year’s event was fea­tured in the Bay Times of May 25. So, how did they do? “Alex and I fin­ished the race in 11 hours, 30 min­utes... missed our goal of 10 hours, but then our ba­sic goal was to fin­ish,” Wil­son said. The win­ning pro­fes­sional pad­dlers, he said, fin­ished in seven hours and 40 min­utes.

This is the se­cond time Wil­son and Bech­told teamed up for the race, but both of them had ear­lier done it with other part­ners. Wil­son is 79 and Bech­told is 24.

“I have to con­fess this race is get­ting hard on these ol’ bones,” Wil­son said. “Alex, how­ever, was won­der­ful. He kept us go­ing and is re­ally a class pad­dler. He got us to the fin­ish line and cer­tainly de­serves a bet­ter part­ner.”

He gave credit to Alex’s girl­friend Can­dace Boettcher and his fa­ther Bill Bech­told for their sup­port in meet­ing them with food and wa­ter at strate­gic times.

Wil­son de­scribed the river as beau­ti­ful even though the wa­ter was a lit­tle low in places, mak­ing the race more dif­fi­cult. “It was fan­tas­tic day,” he said.

This was the 54th Me­mo­rial Day week­end that the race has been held. It is named for Gen. James Clin­ton of Rev­o­lu­tion­ary War fame in New York.

SUB­MIT­TED PHOTO

Ch­ester res­i­dents Hal Wil­son, left, and Alex Bech­told pad­dle the Susque­hanna River dur­ing the 70-mile Gen­eral Clin­ton Ca­noe Re­gatta on Me­mo­rial Day.

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