DOVER-FOXCROFT - The Piscataquis River Canoe Race, an 8-mile dash from Guilford to Dover-Foxcroft, will be run for the 35th year on Saturday, April 28.
Pre-registration may be completed through the Dover-Foxcroft Kiwanis Club Web site at www.dfkiwanis.org, where application forms are available. Registrations are also accepted on race day. Registration fees are $12 per person if received by April 20, and $16 per person on the day of the race. All racers receive a commemorative t-shirt.
The Piscataquis River Race annually draws over 150 racers and scores of boats. While there are six classifications devoted to racing craft, the event focuses on recreational and family participation. Classes have been reorganized this year, and paddlers will compete in 14 racing and recreational categories for canoes and kayaks, as well as four special Challenge classes for two-person canoes.
The race is a major fund-raiser for the Kiwanis Club of Dover-Foxcroft, which raised $12,000 last year and more than $270,000 over the decades through the event. The club has solicited 34 corporate sponsors this year, sells ads and conducts a raffle, in addition to taking in boat registration fees.
This year the race raffle offers cash prizes of $300, $200 and $100. Tickets are $2 each or three for $5 and are available from Kiwanis members.
Kiwanis has used canoe race proceeds to fund a wide variety of community service activities the club has supported: food cupboards, Kiwanis Park, scholarships for Foxcroft Academy graduates, YMCA swimming programs, Dover-Foxcroft Homecoming, the Community Christmas giving project and many others. The Kiwanis Club annually raises and distributes around $40,000 for community service programs, with the canoe race and the summer auction as the main fundraising events.
Popular racing and recreational classes include single kayaks and single canoes for men or women, two-person canoes, Junior/Senior open canoe (one paddler age 16 or under) and the Ancient Mariners (two persons in a canoe, with combined age over 100). There is an open speed class for any paddled craft with any number of paddlers, and there are four canoe Challenge races: Couples Challenge, male and female paddlers; Key Club/High School Challenge, two high school students; Corporate Challenge, two employees from same private sector employer; and Public Service Challenge, two employees from same public service organization.
Helmets are required for decked boats, and all paddlers must have personal flotation devices. Some experience with your boat in rapids is advised, since there are two areas of whitewater, one a grade II-III stretch.
Race-day registration for the Piscataquis River Race is from 8:30-10:30 a.m. near the start at King Cummings Park in Guilford.
The race has a staggered start beginning at 11 a.m. Awards are given for first-, second- and third-place finishes in the racing and recreational classes, and a first-place trophy is awarded for the four Challenge classes. Awards are presented at 1 p.m. at the race finish line across from Foxcroft Academy in Dover-Foxcroft. Refreshment stands are also located at the finish line.
The river course parallels Route 15 and there are many viewing areas between Guilford and Dover-Foxcroft. The Guilford-Sangerville bridge, Low's Covered Bridge and the Dover-Foxcroft railroad trestle are popular vantage points.
The course starts with an easy, 3.5-mile quickwater section between Guilford and Low's Covered Bridge. The river current picks up after that and, depending on water level, varies from quickwater to occasional rapids over the next four miles. Two sections of rapids require some river reading and boat handling skills. After paddling over the old dam above the trestle in Dover-Foxcroft, there is flat water to the finish.
Safety is stressed during the race. The Dover-Foxcroft Fire Department River Rescue team and Dirigo Search and Rescue are on the course during the race, communications are handled by the Piscataquis Amateur Radio Club, and safety personnel are coordinated by the Piscataquis County Emergency Management Office.
The race is an American Canoe Association event.
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