The initial running of the Kenduskeag Stream Canoe Race came about for the reason that two pals assumed it might be a fun plan to race canoes and kayaks in the spring of 1967.
Small did founders Sonny Colburn and Lew Gilman know that 55 many years later on, the race would still be likely strong. Immediately after several years of high water and reduced, by sunny times and freak snowstorms, and even immediately after 2020, when the pandemic forced the cancellation of the party for the to start with time in its heritage, the Kenduskeag Stream Canoe Race will be operate for the 55th time this Saturday.
The 1967 race, which to this working day is officially organized by the Bangor Parks and Recreation Division, saw 51 men and women brave the chilly waters to paddle from the city of Kenduskeag to downtown Bangor. The most effective over-all time that to start with calendar year belonged to the two-man canoe crew of Sam Stoddard and Jim Robbins, who clocked in at 2:52:53.
The pursuing year, the number of racers far more than doubled. The variety of spectators dwarfed people in fact in the race, as each and every calendar year a lot more and a lot more folks crowded along the stream to watch paddlers check out to navigate the rapids, and individuals with homes alongside the financial institution hosted brunches and get-togethers.
Spectators have lengthy been dubbed “river vultures,” since they perch on the sides of the stream, eagerly watching paddlers both make it as a result of rapids — or even greater, memorably capsize. Though BDN reporter Larry Mahoney alluded to the term in his vivid own recollection of functioning the race in 1977, it was WLBZ broadcaster Monthly bill Eco-friendly who popularized it in the 1980s.
Clockwise from left: Bonnie Mayo provides a squirt of h2o to Jeff Sands at the 6 Mile Falls portage in 2000 Cheering Portion Ten-12 months-aged Devan Ewer of Previous City (entrance, left) cheers with brother Dustin, 7, and 7-calendar year-outdated Gage Dunham of Bangor as racers pass Six Mile Falls in 2002. Canoes make their way via the Kenduskeag Stream Canoe Race, in these undated BDN file shots from the early 1970s. Credit rating: Michael York, Leslie Barbaro and BDN file
In those people early yrs, the race was a fairly laid-again affair.
In 1977, longtime racer Tony Trafton attempted to run the race in a bathtub, though it was way too cumbersome to make it to the end line. In 1974, two paddlers managed to take off all their outfits and make their way down 6 Mile Falls entirely naked, prior to somehow finding their outfits again on before the complete line.
By the late 1980s, the race had graduated from getting a homegrown and generally domestically attended sporting party to the premier canoe and kayak race in New England, and a single of the major in the state. It routinely appeals to paddlers from all around the East Coastline and Atlantic Canada, and it’s an official American Canoe Association whitewater open up canoe downriver levels of competition.
The spirit of exciting has under no circumstances left, while, with reliable characters like the Gumby canoe, which features an inflatable Gumby in the boat along with paddlers, and longtime participant and race legend Zip Kellogg, who wears white dress garments and a bow tie, and stands in his canoe for the entirety of the race. In a specified 12 months, you may see anyone dressed in costumes like a banana, a very hot pet dog or Frankenstein’s monster, or an overall team themed to a certain strategy, like Mario, Luigi and Princess Peach.
Clockwise from still left: A banana, a penguin and the Amazing Hulk rejoice finding as a result of 6 Mile Falls in Bangor in the course of the 52nd Kenduskeag Stream Canoe race in 2018 Kevin Stuckey tapes a couple previous minute ducks to his canoe before the begin of the the 50th yearly Kenduskeag Stream Canoe in 2016 Shannon Fitzpatrick (from still left), Brian O’Leary and Andrew Krause view racers make their way down 6 Mile Falls in 2015 A canoe with a giant, inflatable Gumby shoots the rapids at Six Mile Falls in Bangor in 2018. Credit: Troy R. Bennett and Ashley L. Conti / BDN
Throughout the 25th operating of the race in 1991, an overall weekend of activities was prepared, including the Kenduskeag race on Saturday, two extra canoe races on the Penobscot River on Sunday, and an out of doors athletics exhibition, community meals, live tunes, an Earth Working day panel and a carnival on the Bangor Waterfront.
The 50th contest in 2016 was a far more muted affair, however, with the race running in its common manner without having any further programming. The standard pre-race breakfast and submit-race chili and chowder meal have not took place in many years, while there is no lack of celebrating with a beer and a burger in downtown Bangor after paddlers complete a grueling, several hours-lengthy operate of the race.
Robert Lang of New Brunswick nonetheless retains the record for quickest time at any time, at just 1:50:08, set in 1997. He’s component of an elite team of racers in the Sub-2 Hour Club, which contains other champions like 11-time winner Trevor MacLean of Nova Scotia, and profitable pairs like Fred Ludwig and Steve Moser, and Jeff Owen and Steve Woodward.
The highest quantity of racers ever was in 1994, when 1,529 paddlers participated. Today, the race averages all around 800 — a range race organizers count on to hit this yr, following the 1st-at any time cancellation of the race in 2020 due to the pandemic, and a pandemic-decreased quantity of registrations allowed in 2021.
With a little bit more rain set for the conclusion of the week, and temperatures in the 50s and partly cloudy skies forecast for Saturday early morning, it is shaping up to be yet another wonderful calendar year for the race, arrive hell or high — even though hopefully not much too high — h2o.
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