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Rain, cold not enough to cancel Canton Canoe Weekend


CANTON — Cold, rainy weather didn’t stop several dedicated teams from dragging their canoes out to the water at Taylor Park on Sunday.

The rain put a damper on the last day of the annual Canton Canoe Weekend, but it didn’t crush all of the racers’ spirits.

“The people here this morning and yesterday afternoon come no matter what,” he said. “It’s chilly, but they were working and it could’ve been worse. We’ve had it worse.”

The pro and amateur marathon racers come from all over the country each year to compete rain or shine, according to race organizer Charles R. Bolesh.

“They love the challenge and competition of this course,” he said. “It’s a combination of upriver and downriver twisty, windy stuff, and then they go up into the Little River and that is very narrow, tight and twisting. They like the challenge of it because it’s a lot of technical paddling.”

The weather did affect the number of participants in the Rushton Relay & College Relay Challenge on Sunday afternoon, however.

Most of those racers are local families and college students who participate more for fun than for competition.

“They’re local people, they’re kids, they’re families, and when they look out the window and see this rain, I mean, I wouldn’t come,” Mr. Bolesh said. “In the past, we’ve had up to 20 boats, 20 teams.”

This year, although only six teams participated in the relay, some of them came in costume hoping to win a best costume prize.

Paige E. Hamilton, Clare C. Olin, Grace L. Brown, Beth C. Pearson and Lauren M. Smith, seniors at Canton Central School, all wore mustaches.

“We do it every year,” the students said.

They’re usually the only team in the high school category, so they always come in first, Miss Pearson said.

“I canoed with my dad when I was younger,” she said. “Now we’re old enough to do it on our own, so we did, and it’s been really fun.”

Two teams from Paul Smith’s College competed all day Sunday.

Ashley D. Evans, a sophomore at the college, said the college has been participating in the Canton Canoe Weekend for years.

“We had three boats and our coaches in the 12-mile race this morning,” she said. “It’s fun, even in the cold.”

SUNY Canton students also formed two teams for the relay race. Some of them had never been in a canoe before.

Getting hypothermia, tipping over and losing were just some of their pre-race fears.

“It was kind of a spur-of-the-moment decision,” said Katy P. Whyte, a junior at SUNY Canton. “We were just like, ‘Sounds like fun. Let’s do it!’”

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