HAMPDEN, Maine — While officials involved in organizing both events continue to do their best rain dances, a canoeing and kayaking doubleheader scheduled for this weekend is still on course to be held as scheduled.
Some course changes might be required, however, for both Saturday’s Souadabscook Stream Race and Sunday’s Marsh Stream Race given the low water levels on virtually all waterways in the region this spring due to an early snowmelt and lack of subsequent rainfall.
Rick O’Donald of Newburgh, race director for the Souadabscook race in Hampden, planned to check out that stream by canoe Tuesday evening to determine if there is a sufficient flow of water on the white-water section of the route so that the race can be run on its traditional 7.5-mile course from the Emerson Mill Road Grange to the finish line just upriver from the Hampden Water District building.
“The race will be held,” said O’Donald. “We may have to shorten the course or we may have to make it an out-and-back course, but the race is on.”
Should the Souadabscook race course be revised into an out-and-back event, it would mark the second time in two weekends that area paddlers have had to work their way upstream to the finish line.
Last Saturday the course for the Passagassawakeag River Race in Waldo was shortened and turned into an out-and-back route for the first time, but 83 watercraft still made their way to the finish line.
Organizers of the Marsh Stream Race, normally a 6.3-mile run on a stretch of that waterway from the Winterport Snowmobile Club to Frankfort, also are considering a Plan B if there is insufficient precipitation between now and the weekend to elevate the water level.
Race director Bill Deighan said if rains later this week do not bring the water level up sufficiently, the starting line for the Marsh Stream race might be moved up one bridge to a span near the intersection of the Marsh Stream Road and the Stream Road.
That alternate start would be three miles upstream from the original starting line, with the race then running downstream for 6.0 miles, just slightly less than the originally scheduled distance.
The water level is higher upstream, Deighan said, because the stream is narrower at that point.
“We’re going to maybe have to make some changes with the start and finish if the water level doesn’t recover,” said Deighan. “But the big thing is to let people know that the race is on, and that if paddlers get a chance to prerace the stream they might want to make a run from the other bridge.”
Both the Souadabscook and Marsh Stream events involve two races each.
On Saturday, the 1.5-mile Souadabscook Sprint is scheduled for a 9 a.m. start, with registration at 8 a.m. near the starting line. The Souadabscook Stream Race is set to start at noon, with registration beginning at 10:30 a.m.
On Sunday, the 1.5-mile Marsh Stream Sprint is set for a 9 a.m. start, with registration at 8 a.m. The Marsh Stream Race follows at noon, with registration beginning at 11 a.m.
Proceeds from both the Souadabscook and Marsh Stream races benefit charity.
The two races are the final tests locally before the 46th running of the Kenduskeag Stream Canoe Race scheduled for Saturday, April 21, from Kenduskeag village to downtown Bangor.