Lake to lake race | New

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Like a quarterback bulking up his offensive team in a huddle, Tonya Seaborn gathered eight of his clients in a circle to prepare them for the race ahead.

“When you get to the bridge, just know the water is deep,” Seaborn told kayakers and tube users about to enter the Shenango River. His company rents kayaks, canoes and inner tubes to go down the river.

This group from his Pymatuning rental and information center in Jamestown were not training for the August 27 Lake to Lake Paddle Challenge. But Seaborn is up for the event.

“It’s going to be interesting to watch,” she said.

The Mercer County Tourism Promotion Agency is hosting this inaugural race. Operating as VisitMercerCountyPA, the organization is improving the game by giving away more than $5,000 in cash prizes.

“This is truly a partnership between a great group of people and sponsors,” said Peggy Mazyck, President and CEO of VisitMercerCountyPA.

The race spans the Shenango River between Pymatuning and Shenango Lakes.

“It’s going to be tough,” Mazyck said. “We don’t know of any other place that has a lake-to-lake race in Pennsylvania or anywhere else.”

There are several classifications, including age, gender, types of boats – such as kayaks or canoes – and solo or tandem teams. Competitors can choose one of two distances, 15 or 30 miles. The area’s fire departments also compete with each other in their own race.

Riders can view rules, tee times, entry fees and locations on the agency’s website.

“We also want people to know that we’re going to be strict on safety and equipment requirements,” Mazyck said.

Mandatory equipment rules required for all participants include:

• Wear approved life jackets

• Have a signal whistle without peas

• Have a cell phone or other two-way communication device.

• Be able to carry at least 1.5 gallons of liquids per person.

Like many hiking and running marathons, this competition is time-limited so boaters won’t be in the river by nightfall. All runners must reach their respective finish lines within 9 hours for the 30-mile race and 7 hours for the 15-mile race.

The day will end with an awards ceremony, with food and liquor vendors at the finish line, NorthStar Marina, 2802 Lake Road, Clark on Shenango Lake.

This race reflects the popularity of kayaking, canoeing and tube riding on the river over the past decade.

“Going down the river is a great outing for families and it’s inexpensive,” Seaborn said.

What many don’t realize is that the Shenango River in this area is nestled among nature’s trees and meadows, said Janet Shilling, owner of Carried Away Outfitters in Greenville in Greenville.

“The river has become a busy highway on the weekends,” Shilling said. “It’s as if you were in the desert. It makes you feel like you’re in a green cathedral.”

Race information online: https://sites.google.com/laketolakepaddle.com/home

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