The Star-Herald

Aroostook River Fun Run draws outdoor enthusiasts

PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — With sunny skies and a calm spring breeze, Saturday, May 19, proved to be an ideal day for the nearly 90 paddlers, cyclists, walkers and runners who took part in the Aroostook River Fun Run.

The 11th annual event, co-sponsored by the Rotary Clubs in Presque Isle, Caribou and Washburn and the Presque Isle Kiwanis Club, drew in 88 participants, with 50 of those individuals taking part in the river canoe and kayak race that began at Thomas Brewer Park in Washburn. Individuals and teams paddled along the Aroostook River from the park to the Presque Isle Fish and Game Club.

As the start of the race drew closer, racers brought their canoes and kayaks to the boat launch and floated along the river, eagerly awaiting the signal to begin. Marta Jovani, of Caribou, participated in the river race for the first time with her husband, Jeff St. Peter, and their grandsons Gaige St. Peter, 11, and Jacoby St. Peter, 8.

“This is the first time we’ve used our kayaks as a family and so we thought the race would be a good chance to have fun together,” Jovani said.

Carly Bragg, of Washburn, is an avid kayaker but said that Saturday’s race marked the first time she participated in the Aroostook River Fun Run.

“I’ve never kayaked this stretch of the river before, so I thought it would be fun to try,” said Bragg, who kayaked in the race with her boyfriend Colby Johnson.

Those who opted not to paddle in the river race had the option of biking a route of 20 miles starting at the SAD 1 Bus Garage or run or walk three miles in the 5K. Both races ended at the Presque Isle Fish and Game Club, where participants enjoyed a free barbecue lunch sponsored by The Aroostook Medical Center and received awards.

The top winner for the river race was Jim Park, who won the single canoe division with a time of one hour, 11 minutes and 17 seconds. Other winners were Maureen Henley, women’s single kayak, 1:28:18; Justin Bell, men’s single kayak, 1:19:34; Kevin Nader, youth single kayak, 1:44:38; Mathew Shay and Isaac Crone, youth double kayak, 1:36:43; Mandy Hall and Todd Pooler, mixed kayak 1:41:44; Russell Ballard and Patty Cousins, mixed canoe, 1:29:10; Dave Conley and Luke Grenier, 2 men canoe, 1:16:05; Gina LeBlanc Eggert and Abigail Eggert, 2 women kayak, 1:34:26; and Faith Lindsay and Bethany Lindsay, 2 women canoe, 1:31:42.

Coming in at first place in the female runners and walkers division were Amanda Kuczmics and Denise Kingsbury while Grant Stewart and George Peterson were top winners in the men’s division. Trai Parent placed first in the Youth Runners division. Both the running/walk 5K and the bike race were non-timed events.

Larry Bull, acting president for the Washburn Rotary Club, said that the proceeds from this year’s races will support local veterans and Mel’s Trekkers, a team of cyclists who will bike in the American Lung Association’s Trek Across Maine event from June 15 to 17 in honor of cancer patient Melanie Stewart-Ring.

He also noted that this year marks the first time that the weather has not prevented all three races from happening at the same time.

“This is one of the best days we’ve ever had for the races,” Bull said. “We’re also very grateful for the 30 volunteers who help make this event possible every year.”

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