The American Canoe and Kayak Association National Championships got off to a somewhat shaky start on Thursday.
Thunder delayed the start of the Youth Sprints, Adult / Youth Sprints, Disabled Paddler Sprints and Youth Marathons by approximately 30 minutes at Chapman State Park. After that the weather cleared up and other than a bit of wind and choppy water it was a lovely day to be on the water.
A relatively small group of young paddlers competed on Thursday.
All sprints were 250 meters. The marathon was about two miles.
Seven-year-old Haley Lucas of Brookville was eagerly awaiting the national championships and training several times a week.
“I was counting the days” she said.
She will win several medals.
She enjoyed the sprints more than the marathon “it was easier… shorter” – and she didn’t appreciate the weather.
During the sprints, the rowers ran with the wind. The marathon started at the sprint finish line, covered most of the lake, then curved to end where it started. The start of the race was into the wind.
“There was 100% wind” she said.
Other than that it was a good day. “The water was beautiful and smooth,” she said.
The marathon was his first. “It was good,” Haley said. “It was fun. I’m very proud of myself.
She plans to participate again in 2022 in Newaygo, Michigan.
Haley was all smiles after the race, but it wasn’t easy.
“I feel awful,” she said as she walked with her proud parents and grandparents – all runners – to the medal ceremony. “I need a visit to the chiropractor.”
“Our whole family loves to run”, Haley’s grandmother Kim of DuBois said. “We will have three generations of Lucas in the race this weekend.”
“Warren has always been an amazing place to host national championships”, she said. “Couldn’t be nicer than a place to organize a canoe and kayak race.”
As attendance drops, attendees are getting the most out of the experience. “All these years we’ve been assuming we were going to be able to do it again next year”, she said. “We can’t count on next year… better have a good time this year.”
The adult marathons begin at 9 a.m. on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, in the waters downstream of the Kinzua Dam.
Men and women of different age groups, alone or in pairs, in kayaks or canoes of different categories, will descend the river to Betts Park, with two short sections upstream – at Shipmans Eddy and downtown from Warren – along the way.
The area between Hickory Street and the downstream railroad trestle is ideal for spectators – every paddler (except those with young people in their boats) will travel this stretch of the river three times – downstream to the trestle, in upstream to the Veterans Memorial Bridge at Hickory Street, and back downstream to the finish.
The ideal time to look in this area would be from shortly before 11 a.m. until early afternoon. Some paddlers will reach the finish line in about two hours.
Some paddlers will be competing in a 12.5 mile marathon every three days this weekend.
Paddling a canoe or kayak to the finish line isn’t just about cardiovascular health and building big muscles.
The best paddlers work with water.
In Chapman on Thursday, part of the festivities included a Freestyle Canoeing demonstration.
Bruce Kemp, Anita Lovan and Bob and Elaine Mravetz spoke about freestyle canoeing and how it can be applied to any day on the water.
The event was less an interpretive canoe dance than a demonstration of “Functional paddling pool and how to enjoy your boat”, Kemp said.
“Work with their boat rather than against it, so that their boat moves more easily in the water” he said.
Bob and Elaine Mravetz took their canoe through fairly slow gaits with tight turns and quick stops, sometimes accompanied by music. At times, most of Elaine’s upper body was outside the frame (gunwales) of the canoe.
To learn more about Freestyle Canoeing and Freestyle Canoeing, visit www.freestylecanoeing.com.
The idea is “Use the momentum of the boat”, Kemp said, and applying the efficiency of a runner stroke to “Propel and maneuver” the job “with the fewest calories.”
It can help a youngster who goes on the water for part of the day have a good experience and want to go back, he said.