Eight years and counting.
--I must 'really' be getting old since I remember when Bernie and Ben
Levy, myself and Imbert Allen, and Dave MacRae and Hal Bent first went
to this race in 1996 I felt that I was a bit over the hill then to be
'starting' a new type of adventure.
The race has become an annual event on the Gonzo calendar, with another
crew of 15 going south of the border this year.--a quick count in the
old cranium sort of remembers 24 individuals have now taken in the race
at least once, some a couple times, lots 4 or 5 or 6 and the master
himself, IMAX, has paddled all 8 years.
This year started out no different than pretty well all Gonzo treks into
'BUSH' territory, 5:00am rendevous at a local Timmies (Friday, April
18), empty and re-fill our bladders in Sackville, NB (plus reasonable
quantity of fat), onto the border in St Stephen where we have our last
Tim's before crossing through the 'militarized zone.'
Onto Bangor on the I-9, also know as the Airline, off to the Rec. center
to register Trevor. He only forgot two things this year, the other was a
PFD-Then to the Saucony Discount Store, purchases included some sneaks,
spandex, and a couple more 'sharp' green watches--$3.00.
It was then off to the motel, check in, get our wet suits on and up to
Six Mile Falls to paddle down and check out the final 6 miles (white
water part) of the race. The first 10 miles being reaonable flat will be
long enough tommorrow. Run the 6 miles, run Thunder Hole a couple
times-going to be tough, big haystack, back up to Six Miles Falls to run
the rapids there--Because of the potential of disaster this will be
portaged in the race tommorrow.
Back to motel, shower and off to supper, and a rendevous with the
Oh year, who is here this year?
Ben and Bernie Levy will be paddling their 17' Penobscot in the C2,
Rec.Medium Class, Kevin Wentzell and Darrin Gray, Bruce Duffy and Andrew
Warnica will be paddling 16' Penobscots (sharpest entry of all Old Town
canoes) in the C2, Rec. Short Class and Trevor MacLean, K1 class, will
be flying down the river in a 17' Olympic Sprint kayak. Our support crew
this year is Greg Vail and Bruce Murphy.
We have convinced Doug Archibald (Enfield), local marathon canoe paddler
and NSMCA president, to come down this year and he and his son
Kristoffer will be paddling their 17' stock racing canoe in the very
competitive C2, Medium, Experienced class. Their friends Don Evans
(Windsor Junction) and Lawrence Benjamin (Kentville) will be the 3rd
pair from our group in the C2, Rec. Short class. As support crew, they
are joined by Doug's wife Sherry and daughter Mary-Beth and Lawrence's
Morning comes early, and we are off, 16 miles up the river to the small
community of Kenduskeag where 452 canoes/kayaks, 850 paddlers, and
numerous support people, have started to gather for the 8:30 start.
In the Grange Hall, the elders (every old people, some the oldest people
I have ever seen still moving around)) have prepared a breakfast fit for
Pavvarotti-eggs, sausage, ham, home fries, bacon, muffins, 2 big pots of
beans, juices and coffee--all buffet style for ONLY $5.00. Burp!
Out in the field by the river, and all down the road, paddlers are
decking out their craft, flotation bags, spray decks, duck tape flying
everywhere. As 8:30 nears the excitement builds and then it is time to
go. Canoes are sent off at 1 minute intervals, 5 canoes/kayaks at a
time, starting with #'s 1-5, etc. which obviously equals 300 per hour.
The various classes are in the same number groups so the K1 experienced
would be starting with their peers and the C2 Mixed beginners with
theirs. Also the quicker classes are started first so there are not a
lot of 'overtaking' going on. Can you imagine 300+ canoes all coming to
an area at the same time?
Sitting with #292, Andrew and myself start to wind our way down to the
river when the starter had reached the 250 area-8 minutes to go, let's
get on the water and loosen up.
We had watched Trevor, in the elite K1 class go, also Doug and Kris in
their experienced C2 class and also Bernie and Ben, the C2 medium
class.(the longer the canoe, the faster). Darrin and Kevin, Don and
Lawrence started 2 and 1 minutes ahead of us.
Then the voice of the starter called-40 seconds, we were primed and
pumped, 10, and we were moving, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, we started to push, 4, 3,
2, 1, Gooooooooooooooo.
We hit the line bang on and were off, we wanted to hit the first turn
400 yards down the river, hopefully leading our group. At the start we
eyeballed our other 4 and thought we would be ahead of 3 for sure but
the fourth team looked tough. We never looked over our shoulder until we
were around the corner, stroke, stroke, stroke, HUT, stroke, stroke,
etc., ad infinitum. After taking the turn we realized, other than the
one canoe which we were a couple boat lengths ahead of (and pulling away
slowly) we were going well. For the next hour we slowly picked off
canoes, #'s in the 280's, to 260's, then started passing low 200's.
Before we got to 6 Six Mile Falls, and 10 miles into the race, we had
passed about 70 to 80 craft and had been passed by no one. It should be
noted those numbers sound more impressive than they really are, remember
the faster classes start first and most of the canoes behind us are a
slower class, and the ones we are picking off are the slower canoes in
the other classe---BUT it feels good.
We hit the portage at Six Miles in well under 2 hours and from past
years I knew we were doing well in our class, we hadn't caught Kevin and
Darrin (started 2 minutes ahead of us) and realistically didn't think we
would, but passed Don and Lawrence 'very slowly' at around 1+ hours.
They were cruising real well as we noted them passing the same boats
ahead of us before we finally hauled them in.
Hit the shore, pick up the canoe and throw it on our shoulders, start to
run, HOLD IT, my legs would't move, start to run? let's try a quick
walk. 400 meters later we were back in the water and moving into the
final 6 miles, lots of moving water and little drops all over the place,
with about 5 major drops to contend with. The practice run the day
before was very advantageous and allowed us to know the line in all
cases, with the exception of the place we go hung up Friday.
We knew we had to farther river left, we went farther river left, we
hit, and got hung up, on the same ledge. I guess my politics won't let
me go that far left.
What to do, we were very close to pivoting on the rock, going side ways
and over. The only option I saw was to get out on the ledge (water 5-6
feet deep on the lower side), hold the bow of the canoe, let the stern,
with Andrew in it, pivot down stream (hopefully not rolling over or I
would be standing there with no canoe, no partner, in the middle of the
100 meter wide section), get back in the bow and run the drop backwards,
which I knew would not be that tough if I got back in. Jump in, paddle
up stream, going backwords, ferry through the down stream 'V' and off we
Everything else went well, ran all drops perfectly, did the two
mandatory portages well (It helps to have the young buck haul the canoe
(and me) up the steep bank.) We were smoking!
UNTIL THUNDER HOLE!
Doing a down stream ferry, going far river right, dropping through the
same 'V' we went through Friday, hitting the middle perfectly, BUT the
6" the water went down overnight left a rock exposed which we were going
to hit if I didn't cross draw hard right, which I did. The problem is we
(me?) could not get the canoe back 90* left and we hit the shore
straight on, now we started, sort of, to go where we wanted to go but
were rolling over to the left. I tried to put a brace on the left to
keep us from rolling but there was no water, just the rock, which I put
my arm out to push off, JUST AS, the canoe, my weight, Andrew's weight,
and the weight of the downstrea water, drove me into the rock.
Dislocated shoulder, carry me up the steep bank into an Ambulance, off
to the hospitol, lots of good drugs, pull it back in place pain, pain
gone, and then Bruce and Andrew picked me up and back to the motel since
I had missed the finish, the reception and the awards.
The bad news is Andrew and I were in 3rd place in our division by at
least 4 or 5 minutes and we were only about 5 minutes from the
finish--Oh well, Coulda, Shoulda, Woulda.
The good news:
Trevor won the WHOLE race for the second year in a row-2'14" (1st
overall, 452 craft)
Doug and Kris came 3rd in their class out of 10 teams.-2'33" (10th
Kevin and Darrin came 2nd in their class out of 32 teams-2'53" (40th
Bernie and Ben finished 9th in the super tough Medium class out of 61
teams with a time of 2'52". (37th overall)
Ben and Lawrence had a time of 3'19" and finished 7th in their
class--field of 32.
Bruce and Andrew--woulda, coulda, shoulda, can only dream of next year.
Andrew says if he knew the scenerio he could haved stuffed me in the
front of the canoe, limped to the finish and 'then' take me to the
Tremendously good time by all. To complete an already full day, it was
off to Miller's BIG Buffet for a group feeding frenzy.
Sunday morning, up at 6:00, cars at 6:15, breakfast in Calais, Timmies
in Sackville, home mid afternoon.
See ya on the water.
The Kenduskeag: Nova Scotia's Perspective
The Kenduskeag canoe race which, celebrated it's 33rd year, was well represented by members of Nova Scotia's paddling community. The annual race, hosted by the city of Bangor, Maine, was accounted a success with over four hundred boats holding more than eight hundred paddlers. As in the past, the race was well attended not only by participants but also spectators. These 'river vultures' lined the river banks along particular stretches of white water, cheering when canoes dumped and cheering when canoes made it through. The spirit of the event was furthered by local canoes who held everything from three clowns, to a man wearing a white suit who paddled the course standing.
The race started with five canoes going off the line every minute for over two hours. This spread in competitors made it difficult for people to judge where they stood in the placings as the paddlers pulled themselves through the upper ten mile stretch of flat water and then danced through six miles of white water to the finish. However because of the staggering of the boats one had perhaps more fun than a traditional mass start as the Nova Scotia paddlers passed boat after boat. Trevor Maclean placed first over all, Doug & Kristoffer Archibald placing third in the C2 medium experienced and tenth over all, ????Gonzo????. For the crowds and T.V crews along the bank though the most excitement was found at Six Mile Falls - a streach of whitewater that leaves many taking an early swim. With the option to portage, many who competed with the hopes of placing opted to carry their boats as opposed to running Six Mile. Lawrence Benjamin and Don Evans, two of the Nova Scotian contingent, choose to paddle Six Mile and showed everyone watching that it was no problem to stay dry.
With the day starting and remaining sunny enough to burn, it was a good day for both the seasoned Gonzo crowd as well as for the paddlers who were rookies to the event. The race was a fitting start to the marathon season - emphasizing not only the competitive side of the sport but also the friendly atmosphere that exists among the paddling community.
Bangor News Writeup
BANGOR - For more than 20 years, a paddler named Mabee has been in the first boat to leave Kenduskeag Village during the April canoe race that bears the town's name.And for more than 20 years, a Mabee has watched as a faster and later-starting kayak passed his boat on the way to downtown Bangor.
On Saturday, J.R. Mabee and five of his friends again left the starting line of the Kenduskeag Stream Canoe Race first, in a war canoe marked with the No. 1. But this time, Mabee did what he's always wanted to do.
He finally got to Bangor first.
"Kenny Cushman, Fred Ludwig and his tandem kayak [always pass us]," Mabee said. "It definitely [feels good]. This may be the first time we've actually done it right, and got to come across first."
That's not to say that he and his crew - accomplished veteran paddlers Tammy Kelley, Clayton Cole, John Cangelosi, Leslie Winchester-Mabee and Billy Smith - actually won the 37th edition of the venerable race on Monday.
That honor went to Trevor MacLean, a marathon kayak specialist from Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. He finished the 16.5-mile race in 2 hours, 12 minutes, 4 seconds. But since he left Kenduskeag 18 minutes after Mabee's hard-paddling bunch, he never saw the war canoe ... and got to Bangor second. MacLean also won the race in 2002.
Just getting to town first was good enough for Mabee, whose crew paddled a 26-foot, 150-pound boat that Smith created by taking a 20-foot boat, cutting it in half, and adding an extra section.
Mabee didn't actually expect to win the race ... though he thought the war canoe might give him the chance to finally avoid being passed on the way into town.
"We thought it would be a hoot just to run a war canoe in here, and we also knew it would be fairly competitive with the faster times of the day," Mabee said.
Cushman was second in his long kayak (2:13:49), while Chip Loring and Jamie Hannon took third in a racing canoe (2:21:35). The Mabee boat was fifth overall in 2:25:07.
In all, 452 boats carrying 848 paddlers competed in the race on Saturday; 412 boats finished the course.
MacLean arrived in Bangor as the defending champ ... and with some pretty impressive credentials: He finished 18th at the world marathon kayak championships in Spain last summer.
He made up the one-minute time differential he spotted Cushman at the starting line in the first five miles, built that advantage to about three minutes, then avoided a late disaster to win the race.
With less than a half mile to go, MacLean strayed to the side of the stream and found himself grounded on a sand bar.
"It sneaks up on you," MacLean said. "It got shallow and I got caught up in some gravel. I had to jump out of the boat, carry it 10 or 15 feet, then get back in."
MacLean had enough of a cushion by that point to afford the mishap, and while his margin of victory lessened, the incident didn't put his overall win in jeopardy.
"[The race] went well. With the water conditions the river was a bit lower, a couple more rocks," MacLean said. "All in all, it was a pretty smooth race. Nothing too scary."
Cushman said MacLean's Olympic flat-water boat proved faster on much of the course. He had hoped to make up time in the white water with his own downriver boat, but wasn't able to erase his deficit.
"He had a pretty good advantage this year because the water level was low so there wasn't a lot of big whitewater," said Cushman, who gave his boat a patriotic paint job on Friday and turned it into a floating flag. "If there'd been bigger whitewater, I might have gained more in the end. Slowly, through all the whitewater, he kept getting closer and closer, and I could see him."
Cushman had planned on paddling with Ludwig in Ludwig's two-man racing kayak this year, but Ludwig is nursing a rib injury and wasn't able to attend. By midweek he knew Ludwig wouldn't race, and knew he'd paddle solo. Cushman admits that on a 16.5-mile journey ... much of it over flat water ... having someone else to talk to is preferable.
"It's a lot more fun with someone else in the boat on such a long race," Cushman said.
Many of the paddlers worked their way down river without aid of another paddler ... and without anyone else to talk to.
Paula Jean Lunt was one of those, and her story proved interesting. At many local races, Lunt finds competition in the women's short kayak division inconsistent. Some weeks, there are veteran woman's paddlers. Other weeks, there aren't.
For the Kenduskeag Stream race this year, she decided to assure herself a good race by making a change.
"Usually when I race there's not many ladies," said the lobsterwoman from Tenants Harbor. "At the St. George race there was one [other lady], Cheryl Levin. She hadn't raced again until today. So I decided I'd race with the guys and push myself a little harder."
Lunt ended up winning the "men's" short kayak division with a time of 2:45:40. Levin, however, ended up posting the faster time - 2:44:23 - to win the women's division.
local37th Kenduskeag Stream Race
Top overall finishers
(Class winners were not available and will be run at a later date.)
1. Trevor MacLean 2:12:04, 2. Kenny Cushman 2:13:49, 3. Chip Loring-Jamie Hannon 2:21:35, 4. Alsop-McAllister 2:21:59, 5. Mabee-Cangelosi-Cole-Kelley-Winchester-Mabee-Smith 2:25:07, 6. Jeff Sands-H.I. Hasey 2:28:53, 7. Cronkite-Robinson 2:30:27, 8. P. Reinetrsen-A. Paradise 2:33:23, 9. Barry Dana 2:33:39, 10. Archibald-Archbald 2:33:51, 11. Richie Bartlett-Bob Martin 2:34:35, 12. Chris Francis-Mark Ranco 2:35:01, 13. Paul Cole-Sean Rogers 2:35:25, 14. Dan Wagner 2:36:42, 15. Larry Turner-Scott Nelson 2:38:15, 16. Peter Blood-Clint Cushman 2:38:34, 17. Chad Nickerson-Joe Holmes 2:38:59, 18. Bron Pierson-Justin Wardwell 2:40:16, 19. Brenda Zollitsch-Reinhard Zollitsch 2:40:27, 20. D. Woodard-S. Woodard-D. Storh, 2:41:26, 21. Dan Ryan-Rod Quinn 2:41:28, 22. B. Hessler-B. Cough-R. Muir 2:41:53, 23. Bill Deighan-Angus Deighan 2:42:16, 24. Brad Lindelof-Shane Whitcomb 2:42:22, 25. Eric Taylor-Greg Dorr 2:43:18;
26. William Lunt-Nicholas Lunt 2:44:13, 27. Cheryl Levin 2:44:23, 28. John Cary-Charles Cary 2:44:23, 29. Paula Jean Lunt 2:45:40, 30. Brad Krog-Dawn Krog 2:47:03, 31. Matthew Levin 2:48:09, 32. Mark Bamford 2:50:57, 33. Christy Stout-Ander Theobaud 2:51:16, 34. Aaron Winslow-Bridget Maguire 2:51:49, 35. Brant Winsor 2:51:51, 36. Larry Merrill 2:51:55, 37. Ben Levy-Bernie Levy 2:52:11, 38. Jeff Hunt 2:52:18, 39. Burke-Burke-Capuano 2:53:05, 40. Kevin Wentzell-Darren Gray 2:53:57, 41. Mike Kelley-Brit Kelley-Sam Yoder 2:54:08, 42. Stephen Hardy-Scott Hamel 2:54:10, 43. Bryer-Harmon 2:55:03, 44. Rik Eason-Robert Elliott 2:56:00, 45. Rick O'Donald-Caleb O'Donald 2:56:00, 46. Jon Rudnicki-Stacy Rudnicki 2:57:04, 47. Rick Quaintance-Sarah Quaintance 2:57:19, 48. John Berglund-Quincy Berglund 2:58:01, 49. John Hwalek-Jerry Ellis 2:58:15, 50. Earl Baldwin Jr. 2:58:29