Monday, May 19, 2008

2008 Rum River Flag Race

Sunday, 05-18-08

The Rum River Flag Race was hosted by Country Camping Tent & RV Park, on the Rum River. . This was the eighth year for this race. The race is promoted, “The twist on this canoe race is all contestants paddle upstream to a designated turn-around, grab a flag and “high-tail’ it back to the finish line. Flying the flag proudly!”

There was a new “twist’ in this year’s race. There was prize money for the first five positions in each of the men’s, mixed and women’s divisions. There would be food, free t-shirts, other prizes and awards presented at the post race gathering. All of this for only $17 per person.
Pati Midlo, her family, relatives, friends and other volunteers do a really nice job putting on this race and everyone is very personable. Thank you to them and also a big thanks to the race directors, Norm and Duane Strike

This year as well as the other years Pati Midlo made arrangements to have the Ambassadors for the Isanti Minnesota Rodeo Jubilee Days to be present. They would assist in various different tasks during the race and at the awards ceremony afterwards. The three Ambassadors this year are Kasey Byrne, Dani Carlson and Emily Frank.

It looked like it was going to be a nice sunny day for the race. The temperatures were only going to be around the mid 50’s at the start of the race. The wind was expected to increase out of the northwest, but with the sun shining it wouldn’t be too bad. Actually for racing it was very nice, since the trees along the race course blocked the cooler wind.

The race was to start at 11:00 am with the pre-race meeting at 10:45 am. I left home just before 9am. It would take me about forty minutes to get there. I would be there early, but that’s ok as this is a very sociable canoe race and I knew there would be some people I hadn’t seen in awhile.

Lee Jarpey was in his car when I pulled up to the office. Pati Midlo was behind the desk getting things squared away with her helpers and other duties. Shortly after I arrived more and more people began showing up. Ed and I had pre-registered by mail for the race. We were the only ones to do so. Everyone else would register today.

Everyone began gathering in the office to Country Camping. I saw several people who I hadn’t seen in the four years since the time I took time off from racing. It was nice to see everyone again.

I was taking photos during this pre-race time, but I needed someone to take photos while I was out racing. Pati Midlo had one of her volunteers, her neice, Crystal Midlo for the task. I gave Crystal a quick lesson on how run my Nikon D-80 and told her to take a lot of photos. She didn’t let me down. Thank you, Crystal, for the good job!

Most of the racers were preparing their canoes when I got to the area where we park our vehicles. I saw a few more people I hadn’t seen in awhile down there, also. After a few more pleasantry’s Ed and I got my Crozier C-2 down from my Suburban and got our gear ready for the race.

Pati Midlo and Crystal, my photographer, came driving by in their 4 wheel vehicle headed to the landing where the race would start. I handed off my camera to Crystal.

Ed and I walked the canoe down to the landing. There were a few teams on the water already, but it was almost 10:45 am so we stayed on shore for the pre-race meeting.

Pati called for one of the Ambassadors to blow the whistle to get everyone’s attention so the pre-race meeting could begin. Duane Strike had a dry marker board with the course drawn out and he described the course to everyone. This year there were going to be some buoy turns. This makes the race interesting for both the racers and the spectators.

The racers would line up facing upstream. Once the whistle blows for the start of the race the racers would paddle upstream and make a counter clockwise turn around the furthest buoy. After the turn we would immediately head to the bank where several flags are stuck in the bank, grab a flag and continue down stream to the buoy at the start/finish line. The racers then make a clockwise turn around the start/finish buoy and head back upstream to the 3rd buoy. The 3rd buoy is in the back waters just past the first bend in the river. The racers make a counter clockwise turn and head back to the finish. Duane pointed out the start line where the racers needed to line-up. I asked Duane how the start of the race would be announced, he said, “on your mark, get set, then the whistle.”

Pati also requested at the end of the race if some of the racers would be kind enough to take the Ambassadors for a short paddle in a racing canoe.

When the pre-race meeting was finished all the racers headed for their canoes and onto the water for a short warm-up. Ed and I joined everyone else for a warm-up heading upstream. After the warm-up we lined up just to the right of center along the start line. There were canoes to our left and a few to our right. The start line was at an angle across the river and there were several canoes that were one canoe length past the start line. Duane was yelling from shore attempting to get the encroachers back to the starting line. Typical for any canoe race, no one wants to give up any ground. I think some of the racers on purpose didn’t want to look at Duane to see where they should be. I know in their minds they were saying to themselves that they weren’t moving back unless the teams next to them move back first.

Instead of the race starting the way Duane said it would start, I heard a count down from 10. Well, the race was started. Ed and I should have lined up closer to the right shore. There were about 3 teams on our right who were in the slower water and they moved ahead of us. Ed and I didn’t have a good start where we were positioned. The teams on our left were slightly ahead of us also. We were fighting the waves from both sides. Ed and I have never raced or done a mass start together. This was my first race in a C-2 in four years. I did the Snake River a couple weeks ago in my C-1, but there’s a big difference in racing a C-2.

Ed and I finally got back on track after the bigger waves settled down. We were moving up on several of the canoes, but everyone was still pretty much bunched up. We were heading toward the first left hand bent in the river with a little opening under the branches of a tree that was down in the water.

Ed and I got around Rick Lorenzen and his son, Tony. Io Harberts and Anne Manns were just in front of them. Ed and I passed Io and Anne just before the bend. Ed got through the small opening, but the stern of my canoe was swinging out from the turn. I was headed right for a large branch and I knew it was going to hurt when I bounced off it. Well, that was what I was hoping would happen. What actually happen instead of bouncing off the branch, the branch with its many forks actually stuck me straight on my body and lifted me out of my seat and pushed me backwards. All I could do was fall backwards and luckily I fell back in line with the canoe. My heart was already beating from the anticipation of tipping into the cold water. Luckily, we didn’t tipped, not just for us, but I’m sure I would have taken out one or two other canoes.

Ed told me he felt the stern get lighter and he hoped that he would feel the weight return. He stopped paddling and put in a brace when he felt the stern get lighter. I remained in the canoe, but with this stop in forward progress we lost the two places we had just gained before the bend.

Ed and I paddled hard and passed up those same canoes again. I could see the next canoe up from us was Brett Arenz and Jose Matute. Stephanie and Jason Larsen were in front of them. Further up were Joe Mans and Andy Gilbert. Way up ahead was Todd Ellison and Kate Ellis.

Brett and Jose caught up with Stephanie and Jason and rode their stern wake for a period of time before passing them. Then it was Stephanie and Jason’s turn to ride Brett and Jose’s stern wake. Meanwhile, Ed and I continued to paddle by ourselves in an attempt to catch the closest canoe. Stephanie and Jason finally fell off Brett and Jose’s stern wake.

Ed and I slowing gained ground on Stephanie and Jason. We finally caught up with them shortly before the buoy turn. Ed grabbed a flag from the bank after we made the turn around the buoy but we lost a little ground to the Larsen’s. We caught back up and rode their stern wake a short distance before making our move to move up on the left side of them.

The Larsen’s then dropped back to ride our side wake for a distance before dropping back to our stern wake. They would pretty much ride our stern wake the remainder of the race.

On the approach to the buoy at the start / finish line the Larsen’s were a couple canoe lengths behind us. Ed and I got set up for the turn. Ed put in a cross bow draw to go around the buoy and the Larsen’s moved up to a half boat length. I remember yelling to Ed, ok,ok, for him to start paddling again. I don’t know why I didn’t say, Hut!. Ed was probably wondering what I wanted him to do.

We began the upstream paddle to the final buoy turn. Ed and I stayed to the right shore while Stephanie and Jason moved over to the left side to paddle up the eddy before crossing the main current of the river to the buoy in the back water.

The both of us had gained some ground on Brett and Jose who were now on their approach to make a counter clockwise turn around the buoy. Ed then said aren’t we supposed to turn counter clock wise and I said yes. Without thinking I though Ed was thinking Brett and Jose were doing it wrong when in fact they were doing it correctly. When Ed said that I immediately changed our course to the left then I realized that Brett and Jose were doing it correctly so I moved back to the right, but this messed up our approach to the buoy. We didn’t lose any places for this small mistake, but we did lose a couple seconds to Brett and Jose.

We were now a few minutes from the finish. We held off Stephanie and Jason to the finish line. Ed grabbed the flag and waved it proudly as we crossed the finish line with a third place finish in the Men’s Division with a time of 1:26:58 and we had the 4th fastest time overall.

Once all the racers were finished, Joe Manns, Todd Ellison and I each had one of the Ambassadors paddle in the bow of our canoes. Emily Frank was in the bow of my canoe. Joe and I took our Ambassadors up around the first buoy and showed them each how to do a cross bow draw to make the turn around the buoy. On the way back we met up with Todd Ellison and his Ambassador and we had a three canoe race downstream. I think the girls were fascinated on how fast these racing canoes can go.

Everyone proceeded up to the Game Room that’s attached to the Country Camping Office. All the racers signed the “Thank You” cards to the local businesses that provided the presents. We picked up our free t-shirt, then it was time for something to eat. Food was provided by Country Camping.

The award presentation took place with a raffle where several prizes were given away and then the awards given out to the paddlers.

Stephanie and Jason Larsen who raced today and have lived in the Twin Cities for the past several years are moving to Ashland, Wisconsin. They are both very friendly people and exceptional paddlers and today was their farewell party. Bonnie Petersen presented the Larsen’s with several gag gifts and a canoe paddle signed by many of the racers.

A group photo was taken of most of the people who raced today at the end.

I want to give a big “Thank You” to Pati Midlo of Country Camping, the businesses that supported today’s race and all the volunteers. Again, Thank You, Crystal for taking pictures during the race while I was on the water.

This is another Minnesota race that everyone should consider doing. The race is run exceptionally well; the Rum River is very scenic, also. Besides the Pro division there was a citizen division.

There were 15 canoes in the Pro Division and 4 canoes in the citizens. Let’s see more canoes next year!

The winners of the men’s division were Joe Manns and Andy Gilbertson with a time of 1:25:28. The mixed winners were Kate Ellis and Todd Ellison with a time of 1:24:x6. They were also the overall winners. The woman’s winners were Io Harberts and Anne Manns at 1:30:46.

Race Results


Rum River Flag Race
May 18, 2008

C2 PRO Mens
1 Joe Manns (MN) / Andy Gilbertson (MN) 1:25:28
2 Brett Arez (MN) / Jose Matute (MN) 1:26:43
3 Chuck Ryan (MN) / Ed Arenz (MN) 1:26:58
4 Devin Arenz (MN) / Ahvo Taipale (MN) 1:30:06
5 Jeff DuBois (MN) / Al DuBois (MN) 1:31:49
6 George Stichlier (MN) / Steve Yurista (MN) 1:32:03
7 Keith Canny (MN) / Lee Jarpey (MN) 1:32:14
8 Tony Lorenzen (MN) / Rick Lorenzen (MN) 1:36:09

C2 Mixed
1 Kate Ellis (MN) /Todd Ellison (MN) 1:24:x6
2 Jason Larsen (MN) / Stephanie Larsen (MN) 1:27:05
3 Steve Petersen (MN) /Natasha Canfield (MN) 1:31:42
4 John Sullivan (MN) / Kathy Sullivan (MN) 1:36:12

C2 Woman
1 Io Harbertsa (MN) / Anne Manns (MN) 1:30:46
2 Emily Peterson (MN) / Anna Peterson (MN) 1:31:32
3 Julie Boehrer (MN0 / Bonnie Peterson (MN) 1:36:11

C2 Citizen
1 Warren Thunstrom (MN) / Allen Voight (MN) 0:50:54
2 John Arenz (MN) / Wanda Arenz (MN) 0:56:46
3 Bridget Dudos (MN) / Anne Rykken (MN) 1:00:46
4 Zac Beaver (MN) / John Midlo (MN) 1:30:20

Chuck Ryan

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