HOULTON, Maine — Although the weather was cold and windy on the morning of May 1, the conditions of Houlton’s Meduxnekeag River were ideal for holding the Meduxnekeag River Canoe Race.
The race, which had not been held the previous year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, had about 80 participants this year — a number slightly lower than average. Dry conditions over the previous weeks had led to concerns of low water levels and a more rocky Meduxnekeag River. But a steady rain storm which occurred the previous day raised the level enough to make it perfect for a canoe race, said Houlton Chamber of Commerce Director Jane Torres.
“Before yesterday the river was really bony, that’s the technical term for it,” Torres said. “When the rain came it was like this gift, because it brought the level up which makes for some really good paddling.”
Participants traveled from across the state to take part in the race, which began by Station Road in New Limerick. Racers paddled for more than an hour across seven miles of the Meduxnekeag River before crossing the finish line at the Gateway Crossing in Houlton’s Riverfront Park. Both participants and spectators alike were also treated to hamburgers, hot dogs and other refreshments. Participants were also enrolled in prize giveaways and received gifts such as bags of locally-grown potatoes.
Terry Wescott, who finished 1st in the OC-2 Short in the Recreational Experienced division together with his racing partner Bob Martin, has had experience partaking in other canoe races across the continent, such as in Canada’s Yukon Territory, but says he keeps coming back to the Meduxnekeag race, which he has been participating in for 30 years.
“I love it,” Wescott says of the race. “I remember the first time I came up here, I walked away with 50 pounds of potatoes over my back.”
Asked how he felt about the water conditions of the race, Wescott responded with “Perfect. It was beautiful.”
The total results of the race in each division, as well as the respective times for each participant, are as follows:
K-1 Short: 1, Dan Baumert, 1:20:15; 2, Brian Foley, 1:20:29.
OC-1: Jim Park, 1:20:26.
OC-2: Mixed Jeff Owen and Anna Drinkert, 1:11:14.
K-1 Short-Men: 1, Larry Merrill, 1:27:14; 2, Mark Putnam, 2:11:10.
OC-2 Women: 1, Rhonda London and Awendela Dana, 1:34:02; 2, Christine Cliff and Victoria Ingraham, 1:41:49; 3, Rose Guy and Betty Parsons, 1:45:13.
OC-2 Mixed: 1, Travis Deabay and Meaghan Deabay, 1:28:43; 2, Allisen Risigner and Kirk Donovan, 1:29:17; and 3, Brian MacDonald and Kelsey MacDonald, 1:38:58.
OC-2 Jr./Sr. : 1, Will Cliff and Phillip Espenscheid, 1:22:59; 2, Dave Conley and Brandon Waldahl, 1:26:44; and 3, Ryder Drinkert and Daisy Drinkert, 1:35:15.
OC-1 Rec: Peter Blood, 1:29:42.
OC-2 Short: 1, Patrick Coville and Thomas Nisbett, 1:34:07; 2, Levi Prosser and Pat Longstaff, 1:41:25.
OC-2 Stock: 1 (tie) Sam Holmes and Chris Corey, and Ted Sussman and Michael Sussman, both 1:24:18; 3, Dan Swallow and Samantha Swallow, 1:24:33.
OC-1: Nolan Mabee, 1:29:23.
OC-2 Short: Bob Martin and Terry Wescott, 1:19:52.
OC-2 Medium: 1, Dean Redding and Mark Risinger, 1:18:16; 2, Tom Towle and Fran Cyr, 1:20:21.
OC-2 Mixed: Sarah Whitty and Dale Hartt, 1:23:29.
Special K1-Short: 1, Amy DiFrancesco, 1:41:40; 2, Bode Allen, 1:43:23; 3, Gavin Blair, 2:11:50.
Law Enforcement: A.C. Cross and Chad Robertson, 1:19:37.
High School Trophy: Jathaniel Lindsey and Alyssa Ingram, East Grand, 1:37:48.
High School: 1, Ashton Mabee and Jack Burke, Orono, 1:19:46; 2, Isaac Miller and Evan Smith, Orono, 1:27:05; and 3, Jathaniel Lindsey and Alyssa Ingram, East Grand, 1:37:48.