Po­tomac Down­river Race Is Fast Ap­proach­ing

The Washington Post Sunday - - Sports -

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.

— Lauren Wise­man Have an item to list in the Out­side Line? E-mail it to wise­manl@wash­post.com.

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