Roasting on the River
Race organizer Brad Beckwith promoted this year’s kayak and canoe race as the “Wild” Wysox River Challenge.
It may not have been “wild” but with tropical weather conditions and a drought-starved Susquehanna River, the event certainly proved to be a test for the 27 intrepid paddlers who participated.
“With temperatures in the 95-degree range and humid as it gets and the river as low as I have seen, the challenge was all that,” Beckwith said.
The field was divided into three classes—Pro, Touring and Recreational.
Pro-class paddlers were tested by a 13.7-mile paddle on the low river, while the Touring class had a seven-mile paddle, as did the Recreational class. The Recreational Fun course was a short one-mile sprint.
Chaz Ross was the overall Pro winner with a time of 1:56:05. The team of Paul Gruber and Steve Martin brought the first canoe across the line at the Wysox river access in 2:03:57.
Beckwith noted that one woman took on the Pro course, finishing in 2:58:00.
“It was a long time out there in those conditions,” Beckwith noted. “But she hung in there. She is tough as nails.”
Making the Pro race more difficult was the race to retrieve cash prizes off buoys on the course.
Ross collected a $50 prize, while Leon Mosher retrieved a $100 flag that had submerged.
“He gave a yell on his good fortune,” Beckwith reported.
Gruber and Martin snatched a $30 flag as did Jeff Rankenin and Joey Rankenin from their two-man canoe.
Bruce Lee also grabbed a flag, but lost it.
“I know from watching this, it was not easy, but it was great fun to watch,” Beckwith observed.
In the Touring class, Gary Mullen crossed the line first with a time of 1:07:56, just edging out Dan Harmon in the “battle of the day” by just 11 seconds.
John Beckwith won the Recreational seven-mile paddle in 1:20:56.
Only two paddlers were in the Recreation fun race with Bradley Martin nipping his grandfather, Ralph Martin, at the line. Both paddlers took first in their division.
All the paddlers were given a rubber chicken to throw through a target on their way past the start-finish line.
Two chickens made it through the hole. Bruce and Maryann Braman got the first pick of the two top prizes, which totaled over $1,000. They selected the Cobra Kayak.
The Rankenins also had a successful chicken toss and received the Carbon Epic paddle.
The shootout over the rapids was cancelled due to conditions.
Participants relaxed afterwards with pizza, water and Gatorade.
“It is a true testament to the human spirit that you can come compete in conditions like this and, at the end, laugh and tell your adventure as you saw it,” Beckwith said.
Recreational Fun Class: Under 15-feet kayak men: 1. Bradley Martin 23:26. Over 15-feet kayak men: 1. Ralph Martin 23:29.
Recreational Class (Seven Mile): Over 15-feet kayak men: 1. John Beckwith 1:20:56. Under 15-feet kayak men: 1. Irv Claar 1:31:30, 2. Roger Claar 1:33:38, 3. Brian Beckwith 1:34:00. Over 15-feet canoe mixed: 1. Bruce and Mary Ann Braman 1:28:32.
Touring Class (Seven Mile): Unlimited men: 1. Gary Mullen 1:07:56, 2. Dan Harmon 1:08:07, 3. Duane Vanderpool 1:11:39. Sea kayak men: 1. Brian Ammon 1:19:44. Sea kayak women: 1. Elizabeth Vanderpool 1:20:50, 2. Shawn O’Connor 1:38:07. K-1 senior over 60 years: 1. Dave Kyle 1:14:24.
Pro Class: Unlimited: 1. Chaz Ross 1:56:04, 2. Leon Mosher 2:11:29: Mike Romanovitch 2:16:32. Sea kayak women: 1. Linda Charles 2:58:00. C-2 Open: 1. Paul Gruber and Steve Martin 2:03:57, 2. Joe Schlimer and Andy Melnychenko 2:06:25, 3. Jeff and Joey Rankenin 2:11:34. C-1: 1. Bruce Lee 2:04:16, 2. Steve Corbett 2:22:47.