Think your waterway is crowded? On April 26, more than 1,300 paddlers descended upon Massachusetts’ Charles River for the 28th Annual Run of the Charles Canoe & Kayak Race, the signature event of the Charles River Watershed Association.
Boston’s famed urban river also saw thousands of spectators cheer on the racers as they paddled from Dedham to the finish in Brighton, where public activities were held and a raging bash by the New Orleans Jazz Band. Bonus: the finish area also hosted a new prestigious Guinness World Record record for the “Most People Throwing Rubber Chickens at the Same Time.” The new record: 265 people.
“It was great to see all the families, companies, paddlers and spectators out all having a good time,” says CRWA Executive Director Bob Zimmerman. “People were pretty excited about it — and we’re glad our race gets to be part of history.”
The event, which also included a river clean-up, is held largely to increase awareness about and help protect the Charles River. “Equally important are our volunteers,” adds Zimmerman. “Each year they come out to support the CRWA and the Run of the Charles, and without their support this event would not be possible.”
In the 26-mile Flatwater Canoe Marathon, featuring six portages around dams and across two roads, Michigan’s Andy Triebold and Josh Sheldon paired up to take first place with a time of 2:53:19. The dams in Newton, Wellesley, Waltham and Watertown forced paddlers off the river and onto their feet, shouldering their boats while they ran to the spot where they could get back on the water and resume paddling. Paddlers raced across Route 16 on the Newton-Wellesley line and across Moody Street in Waltham, running for nearly a ½-mile on each of these portages alone.
In the 24-Mile Relay Race, the Quinobequin Canoe Club of Ashland, Mass., posted the winning time for the seventh year in a row, finishing the five-leg, 10-person relay in 3:40:10, beating their time last year by 9 minutes and 33 seconds. In the 19-Mile Races, the fastest boat was a kayak paddled by Andrius Zinkevicus of Dover, Mass., who crossed the finish line in 2:28:25. In the 9-Mile Race, Eric Schulz of Johnson, Vt., posted the winning time by crossing the finish line in 1:12:48. The 6-Mile Race was won by Chris Chappell of Wayland, Mass., with a time of 53:09.
The work of CRWA encompasses all 80 miles of the Charles River, which meanders through 35 eastern Massachusetts towns and cities within the 308 square miles of the Charles River watershed, which serves nearly 1.5 million citizens. CRWA’s successes have led many organizations across the country to emulate its science methods and watershed management models.