Potomac Downriver Race Is Fast Approaching
Wouldn’t it be nice if all sporting events in the region got the same attention as the Washington Redskins? That is a question posed by Star Mitchell, the co-race chair of the Canoe Cruisers Association’s 52nd running of the Potomac Downriver Race, which takes place May 12. Perhaps then, Mitchell says, spectators would hike river trails rooting for canoeists and kayakers as they paddle through challenging rapids.
“There is a great paddling community in Washington. People are out on the river all the time,” she said.
But, as in years past, this race continues without much fanfare. Each May, 50 to 80 canoeists and kayakers from Philadelphia to North Carolina converge on the Potomac to paddle six miles down river to Sycamore Island. The race, which began in the spring of 1955, can take participants 45 minutes to two hours to complete. According to Mitchell, the Potomac Downriver Race is the oldest canoe and kayak race in the region. The first race led to the formation of the Canoe Cruisers Association of Washington D.C. (CCADC) the following year.
Medals and prizes are awarded each year in 10 categories, including white-water kayak, wild-water canoe, tandem canoe and long kayak.
The race, Mitchell said, is not for novices. Paddlers must have experience with at least Class III rapids. All boats must be equipped with adequate flotation devices and all paddlers must wear helmets and life jackets.
The CCADC takes its historic race seriously. At the end of the race, participants receive a T-shirt and lunch. An awards ceremony will be held once all paddlers have crossed the finish line and results are calculated.
Registration begins at 9:30 a.m. at the Old Anglers Inn, 10801 MacArthur Blvd. in Potomac. The race begins at 11 a.m. The early registration fee of $15 is due by May 5; registration at the gate is $25. Shuttle buses will transport paddlers from Sycamore Island back to the inn.
The CCADC also offers canoe and kayak classes for all levels beginning in May. For more information or to register, visit www.canoecruisers.org.
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