Coming after winter’s cold, whitewater canoe racing gets many people outdoors, exercising and feeling good.
What happens to their entry fee after all expenses are paid can offer the same feeling.
Last year, the races run under the auspices of the American Canoe Association of New England were able to donate more than $4,000 to local charities or ones that help Maine people, according to race director Bill Deighan.
Those ACA New England races consist of the Souadabscook Stream Races, the Marsh Stream Races, the Machias River Race, the Union River Race and the Kenduskeag Stream Slalom Race. There are also plans for a Dead River Race later in the season.
The first of this year’s events, the Souadabscook and Marsh Stream races, are Saturday and Sunday in the Maine Whitewater Weekend.
The Souadabscook is Saturday with a sprint race starting at 9 a.m. and the downriver race at noon. Registration for the sprint race starts at 8 a.m. at the Grange Hall on Emerson Mill Road in Hampden; downriver registration starts at 11 a.m. at Vafiades’ Landing on the Bog Road and the race meeting is at 11:45 a.m.
The Marsh Stream races are Sunday with sprint race registration at 10 a.m. at the Winterport Riverside Riders Snowmobile Club on Pine View Drive and the race at 11 a.m. The downriver race registration is at noon at the bridge on Loggin Road, the race meeting is at 1:15 p.m. and the race starts at 1:30.
There are classes for all ages and expertise of the canoe and kayak racers. Those apprehensive at tackling some of the rougher Souadabscook rapids, which are up to Class III-plus, have an alternative option.
“We have shorter distances for less-experienced racers,” said Deighan. “That means they can miss the larger drops [rapids], which are at the end.”
The entry fee is $20 per person for the first race this weekend, $5 for each additional race. There is a $5 discount for ACA members with membership card. Helmets, flotation and life jackets are required.
As an encouragement for people 21 and younger to participate, there is a bargain combined package for $10 which includes all weekend races and a six-month ACA membership.
“Registration is ahead of last year,” said Souadabscook race director Gary Brooks.
The main charity supported by the organizers in recent years has been the Make-A-Wish Foundation, including $1,000 last year. The Cancer Support Center of Maine in Bucksport and the Multiple Sclerosis Society also received $1,000 each, Maine Handicapped Paddlers received $800 and the Animal Welfare Society of Brunswick was presented $250.
Deighan took note of the work of the Penobscot Paddle and Chowder Society.
Some of the race committee had helped with a fundraiser put on by the Penobscot Paddle and Chowder Society. In thanks, society members donate their time providing safety for the racers as long as the money saved goes to charity.
“That works out great for all of us,” said Deighan.
For more information about the Souadabscook, call Brooks at 234-4521. For Marsh Stream info, call Deighan at 234-2510.