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Fox River in the flow  as Mid-Am Race cometh

Jeff Long

Jeff Long

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Upcoming

Friday, March 1: Dad & Son Superhero Night, Eola Community Center, 6:30 to 8 p.m.

Wednesday, March 13: Perform It Series Showcase: “Grease,” Prisco Community Center, 7 p.m.

Saturday, March 16: MapleFest, Red Oak Nature Center, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Saturday, March 23: Easter Egg Bone Hunt for Dogs, Blackberry Farm, 10 to 11 a.m.

Saturday, March 23: Bunny Brunch, Prisco Community Center, 10:30 a.m. to noon

Saturday, March 30: 5K Spring Gallop, Blackberry Farm, 8:30 to 10 a.m.

Updated: April 1, 2013 7:10AM



Rain and winter should be mutually exclusive. They don’t belong together. Whenever we get an out-of-season downpour, I launch into a familiar refrain. “Why can’t all this rain be snow? Imagine how glorious it would be!”

And that was before my house was struck by lightning. In January. During a thunderstorm. (Yes, really.)

But I digress. For as much as I enjoy winter sports like skiing, I’m every bit as passionate about paddling — canoeing, kayaking, stand up paddle boarding — all of them. So in the name of healthy lakes and rivers, any form of precipitation is welcome — and we’ve been making up for lost time lately.

The Fox River looks a lot happier as a result, coursing through the valley with renewed and urgent vigor. Undoubtedly, the river is giddy with anticipation for the first Sunday in June, when the Mid-American Canoe & Kayak Race will ply her waters.

The 52nd running will be June 2, when hundreds of paddlers will take to the river and enjoy it for the tremendous recreational resource that it is. More than 45,000 paddlers have taken part in this historic event since it first launched in 1961. Good times like these never get old.

Amid long-held traditions and new features, this race — like the paddlers it hosts — continues to evolve.

Appealing to a wide range of abilities is a top priority. From first-timers to 30-year veterans, the Mid-Am strives to strike a balance between easy-going recreation and hard-core competition.

To that end, the Mid-Am will offer two race lengths, with a 10-mile course starting in St. Charles and a 6-mile race beginning in Batavia. Both routes finish at the Illinois Avenue Bridge in Aurora with a riverside celebration and lunch party at beautiful McCullough Park.

Early heats starting in St. Charles are “racers-only” heats to give the most competitive paddlers free run of the course and avoid potential crowding in tight spots and portages. Those who are less experienced at being on the river — such as first-time paddlers and young families — are able to start later and travel at a more leisurely pace.

The Mid-Am also offers discount boat rental packages that are immensely popular. Nearly 200 boats were rented at the 2012 event, maxing out local vendors. This year, WI River Outings has come on board to join Paddle and Trail (Aurora), Freeman’s Sports (Yorkville) and Tipacanoe (Burlington, Wis.), boosting the collective rental fleet to 225 canoes and 100 kayaks.

For those who “don’t have a boat,” well … you can — and it’s easier than ever. Enjoy the convenience of showing up and having a boat and gear waiting for you. After paddling the river, you simply leave everything at the finish line to enjoy lunch and music.

Speaking of food, paddlers and spectators alike will enjoy a variety of offerings at the finish line party. While each paddler receives lunch as part of his/her registration, local vendors also will be on hand selling hot dogs, hamburgers, sub sandwiches, popcorn and other favorites.

The riverside party and awards ceremony will be extra lively this year with WJMK (K-HITS 104.3 FM) set to broadcast live from McCullough Park. Can a party be rockin’ and relaxing all in one? You bet.

Good times make for a great event, one that celebrates a shared, recreational resource — the Fox River — and the people who enjoy it.

Jeff Long is the public relations manager for the Fox Valley Park District. Contact him at jlong@fvpd.net. To register online for the Mid-American Canoe & Kayak Race, visit www.foxvalleyparkdistrict.org.



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