HUNTSVILLE - The Huntsville sport events calendar just got two new additions for the coming year.
The Big East River X and the Muskoka River X will be held on June 15 and the weekend of Sept. 13 to 15, respectively.
Kari Lambe, the town’s director of community services and economic development, said the events fit in with the municipality’s sports and event tourism plans.
“The great thing about these events is that they are the beginning and the end of our busy sport tourism season,” she said. “From what I have been told, these events will draw people into our community who might not have come. It will open the town up to people who may want to come back another time and do paddling vacations. This is a fantastic opportunity.”
The Big East River X has two distinct events, a 40-kilometre marathon race and a nine-kilometre recreational race, canoe, kayak, and stand-up-paddle boat users.
The recreational race has a course that takes competitors from the start at River Mill Park along the Muskoka River to Lake Vernon and back. The marathon course also starts at River Mill Park and takes the paddlers north to Lake Vernon.
However, these boaters will paddle up the Big East River, crossing under the Highway 11 bridge after which teams will return along the same route, completing the race at the River Mill Park.
The Muskoka River X also includes canoe, kayak, and stand-up-paddle boat users and a start from the River Mill Park, but this event will take boaters on a much more challenging course than the Big East races.
The competitors will complete a course that is 128 kilometres in length and do it over a 24-hour period. Billed as the longest single-day paddling event in the world, entrants in either the men’s and women’s solo/tandem and relay division will travel nine portages over the course of their race, which will include taking competitors from Huntsville, to Baysville, and down to Bracebridge, back up to Port Sydney with a finish back in Huntsville.
Mike Varieur is the race director for both races. He said he and fellow adventure racer Rob Horton have been working on the Muskoka River X for about one year now, and that the idea for another race, the Big East River X, eventually came out of these plans.
“There are several, longer paddling races that last for days and are held down in the United States,” he said. “They require a lot of support and a lot of commitment from the racers. We were looking at something more of a weekend race.”
He said that the limit for the Muskoka River X race is 50 boats, adding that a first-time race like this one could draw in excess of 30 entries. As of Monday, the event has 27 entrants.
Varieur said that there is no limit to how many can enter the Big East X race, adding that registration will be open for that event sometime later this month.
Some of the proceeds from the two paddling events will go to support the Muskoka Watershed Council.
The cost for the Big East River X is $25 per person, plus five dollars extra for membership into the Ontario Marathon Canoe and Kayak Racing Association, an affiliate of Canoe Ontario. The fee for the Muskoka River X ranges from $275 for solo entrants to $1,175 prior to an early bird registration date of June 1.
To register or to find out more information, you can visit the events’ website at http://muskokariverx.com.