The Star-Herald

Aroostook River Fun Run returns May 18

WASHBURN and PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — In a sure sign of spring, the annual Aroostook River Fun Run will take place starting at 10 a.m. on Saturday, May 18, offering a fun opportunity for individuals and families to get outside and enjoy the Aroostook River and the area around it.  

The Aroostook River Fun Run began 12 years ago as a partnership between the Presque Isle and Washburn Rotary Clubs to celebrate the tremendous resource that connects the two communities, the Aroostook River.  That collaboration grew over the years to also include the Kiwanis Club of Presque Isle, Northern Light AR Gould Hospital and the Presque Isle Fish & Game Club.

The event itself also grew to include more than just the traditional river race for paddlers in canoes and kayaks, with the addition of both a bike course and a 5K run/walk option.

Fun Run partners hope to equal or surpass last year’s success, according to Mark Putnam, Presque Isle Rotarian and one of the organizers of the event.  Putnam enjoys being on the river and regularly takes part in the event, either paddling the course ahead of time to ensure there are no unexpected obstacles or going down the river as a “sweeper” to make sure all participants safely make it to the end.

He plans to take part again this year, this time wearing a GoPro camera as he goes so the group can capture the experience and share it on-line to promote the activity.

“This is an incredible way to enjoy the region, have fun and get active,” said Putnam.

Although they will start at different locations, paddlers, bikers, runners and walkers all will start at 10 a.m., and all three courses end at the Presque Isle Fish & Game Club.  A free barbecue lunch will take place for participants and volunteers, followed by the presentation of awards and door prizes. Crews will transport participants and gear back to their vehicles.

Canoe and kayak participants will leave from Thomas Brewer Park in Washburn. Paddlers can take part by themselves, with a partner or with their children.  Life jackets are required for all who are in watercraft on the river. Children under 10 must have an adult in the watercraft with them; children 10-13 must have an adult in a nearby watercraft.  Check-in or event-day registration for paddlers takes place from 8:30-9:30 a.m. at Thomas Brewer Park.

Bikers will depart from the Presque Isle Bus Garage on Parsons Road and travel to Washburn and back, a route of about 20 miles.  This is an untimed event. Check-in or registration for bikers takes place from 8:30-9:30 a.m. at the bus garage.

A 5K for runners and walkers will start at Machias Savings Bank in Presque Isle, heading down some local streets and then along the Parsons Road to the Fish & Game Club.  Check-in and event-day registration goes from 8:30-9:30 a.m. at the bank.

All events start at 10:00 a.m. Registration is $15 for adults and $8 for children under 13.  All children under 13 must be accompanied by an adult. Free event T-shirts will be available while supplies last.  

New this year is the opportunity to sign up and pay online.  Those who register and pay ahead of time will not only be ensured a shirt but will have a streamlined check-in process on event day.  Visit www.pifg.org and click on the link for the Aroostook River Fun Run.

In addition to the benefits of getting outdoor and active, this event supports worthy community causes each year.  This year, all proceeds will be divided evenly between two causes: local veterans and the American Lung Association in support of Mel’s Trekkers, a group biking in Trek Across Maine in honor of Melanie Stewart-Ring.

Donations come from registration fees and support from several area businesses and organizations.

Proceeds are also supplemented by the sale of raffle tickets for the chance to win a Cannondale Catalyst 3 bicycle (value $500), a GoPro (value $250), or a $100 gift certificate to the North Maine Woods.  Tickets are $1 each or six for $5 and can be purchased from any Rotarian or at the PI Fish & Game Club before noon on May 18. Winners will be drawn at the end of the Fun Run.

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