Adirondack Challenge: Four-person canoes featured

The flatwater paddling races during the Adirondack Challenge in Indian Lake will feature four-person canoes and big money prizes in the main races on Sunday, July 21.

The main race will be a 15-mile, four-person canoe competition on the 14-mile-long Indian Lake. This pro race will consist of teams of two men and two women with a first-place prize of $2,500. The top 10 finishers will receive prize money, with the first four each receiving more than $1,000.

There will also be pro races for four-person canoe teams consisting of men, women and seniors. Each of these races will have prize money for the top three finishers. The first-place award will be $600 in each race. The senior competition will consist of teams with an overall age of 250 years or more.

These pro races will start and finish near the state boat launch on state Route 30 in the town of Lake Pleasant by the entrance to the state Department of Environmental Conservation campground at Lewey Lake.

In addition to the four pro races, there will be a college race called the New York State College C-4 Challenge Challenge Cup.

There will also be 10-mile-long amateur canoe and kayak races with a variety of classes that will include solo, tandem and other boats.

All the flatwater races are being organized by the Adirondack Watershed Alliance, a Lake Clear-based organization that runs the Adirondack Canoe and Kayak Race Series, which includes the 90-mile Adirondack Canoe Classic. Brian and Grace McDonnell, who own Mac’s Canoe Livery in Lake Clear and live in Paul Smiths, head the AWA. Brian McDonnell will be in charge of the flatwater race and assisted by Chuck Bolesh, who organizes races for the St. Lawrence Valley Paddlers in the Canton area, and Andrew Jillings, director of outdoor leadership for Hamilton College. Grace McDonnell is in charge of many of the behind-the- scenes logistics for the event.

The DEC and Olympic Regional Development Authority will also be involved.

Brian McDonnell said the goal is to draw an international field of competitors. The race will be different than many of the pro ones around the country that feature solo and tandem boats.

“The C-4 has become a very popular boat for the 90-Miler,” he said. “It brings the team aspect of paddle racing into the whole scenario, so it’s not just one person or two people in the boat.”

The races will take place at 10 a.m., several hours before Gov. Andrew Cuomo and other government officials compete in a whitewater competition that is expected to draw a large contingent of media. The whitewater event will consist of 25 rafts with six-person teams on a 2.5-mile stretch of the Indian River below Lake Abanakee Dam to the confluence of the Hudson River. More information about the whitewater event is expected to be announced in the near future.

There will also be a day-long festival with food vendors and music in Indian Lake.

The entry fee for the canoe and kayak races is $25 per person for amateur class participants and $40 per person for pro classes.

“We’re actually looking at a series of events that are looking to bring more people into the area from farther away,” Brian McDonnell said. “We’re looking at these races to be tourism drivers. By having a purse then there’s more of a likelihood that you’re going to get people to come from far away.”

The prize money will come from sponsors and entry fees. Final details of the race are still being worked out.

Registration and race information is available on the website. The four-person stock boats for the pro races will have to meet certain specifications. Paddlers should check with organizers to make sure their boats meet these standards.