Article & Photos Provided By Tommy Piros
The 3rd annual Cuyahoga Falls Kayak Race took place on Saturday, April 28th, 2018 but the excitement continued through the weekend! Thanks to the hard work and dedication from the local paddling community and of course the main race coordinator, Don Howdyshell. The Cuyahoga race had more sponsors than ever. Sweetwater Brewery is the biggest yet! Setting up a massive tent right by the waterfalls for the registration and a full festival after the race. With preregistration, shirts were included for a better deal but everyone who registered received a Monster Energy sponsored “goody” bag that included free food, beverage vouchers, monster energy drink, #stuckinohio stickers and a few others goods. Registration went from 9 am to 11 am. Safety talks began at 11:30 am. And then the racers setting safety ran the race course first beginning at high noon.
The first race event was the time trails. Both long and short boat started about 1,000 ft upstream of the Sheraton hotel where registration was earlier in the morning. The Sheraton is located directly above the waterfalls. Luckily the owners of the Sheraton love us kayakers and donated their pool deck, overhanging bar/restaurant and riverside bar for spectators of the race. Not to mention they offered deals on rooms for competitors. The hotel overlooks the river which makes this event great for spectators! The time trial race is just under a mile long with the falls right in the middle of the course. The finish line of this race is the start of a man-made lake (which will be gone someday) for the next half mile float. The takeout is at Front St. bridge where local kayak rental company, Burning River Adventurers picks everyone up and sponsors shuttle ALL DAY LONG. Even practice lap shuttles are provided for everyone at no charge as well as SNACKS!
This cycle repeated a couple times for the boater cross race and the slalom race, although the slalom took place while hiking laps at the falls. Unfortunately, this year the timing was messed up somehow and an actual winner could not be determined from the results. Although this was disappointing, it didn’t seem to affect the event in any way. Awards and food were still held under the Sweetwater Brewery tent but instead of announcing the fastest times race coordinators drew random names from a hat of competitors for prizes. Then everyone else got to pick through the rest. If anything, I think more people received prizes because of this. The festival went till 10 pm with awesome live music and shenanigans.
Many competitors stayed right there at the Sheraton and the city was thankfully still releasing water all day Sunday for an awesome cool-down session. Due to the fact that there was no one winner determined this year, everyone who competed is a winner if they had fun! Turned out to be another safe and fun Cuyahoga Falls Kayak Race for the books and I can’t wait till next year!