Paddle Faster

     Today looks like a pretty good day to be racing through the Quetico Park.  The wind is calm, the sun is covered by clouds and the forecast calls for a high around 70 degrees, perfect for paddling.  There’s a slight chance of rain this afternoon and tomorrow but that won’t dampen the spirits of the racers in the legendary Cross Quetico Canoe Race.

     This race was first held in 1962 but hasn’t been held for a number of years.  To celebrate the Centennial Anniversary the race was brought back this year.  Over twenty teams are paddling from French Lake down to Prairie Portage and then back up to French Lake for the finish.  Teams can choose their route through the canoe country as they see fit and their total paddling times will be used to determine the winner.  The paddlers will overnight at Prairie Portage and will have paddled and portaged over 200 kilometers by the end of tomorrow. 

     Oh what fun it would be to race across the Quetico Park.  I just know I wouldn’t be able to paddle with my husband because we have a tendency to have "on the water divorces."  These occur when he says things like, "Paddle faster" or "Give it all you got" after I have obviously been doing just that the entire time. 

     It does sound like a great adventure and hopefully the race will return to the Quetico Park again next year and in the years to come…

By Elle Andra-Warner

THUNDER BAY, ON – August 6, 2009 – Quetico Provincial Park continues to celebrate its Quetico Provincial ParkCentennial Anniversary with the return of the legendary Cross Quetico Canoe Race. The 200-kilometer endurance challenge takes competitive paddlers over lakes, portages, rivers, and creeks, through Canada’s finest canoeing Park. This race is unique in that once the competitors leave French Lake, they are completely surrounded by wilderness until they reach the opposite side of the park.

The original race began in 1962, and featured international competitors from Ontario and Minnesota. For several years it was hosted by the Atikokan and Ely Chamber of Commerce to feature the champion paddlers from the “canoe country”. Quetico Provincial Park Superintendent Robin Reilly says; “in its short history, the Cross Quetico Canoe Race gained a reputation as an extreme challenge for the most seasoned paddlers… the provincial park would like to re-kindle the spirit of the race, bringing back that excitement and the paddlers to the region.”  This year, twenty teams will be traveling from Minnesota and Ontario to take part in this historic race.

The race begins at French Lake, with a turnaround point at Prairie Portage, where the paddlers will camp out and spend the night. Paddlers can take any route to accomplish the journey. Various conditions and obstacles along Quetico’s interconnecting waterways will test the paddlers throughout the journey. The team with the best total time for the two day challenge will be declared the winner.

The race is expected to unveil new legends to the region.

Media are invited to attend the two day event.

When:  Saturday August 8th- Sunday August 9th

August 8th:  Race begins at 6:00 a.m. (CST)  at the Main beach of French Lake at the Dawson Trail Campground – Mass Start

August 9th: Race End- Paddlers are expected to start arriving at the finish line at 6:00 p.m. located at the Main beach of French Lake- Dawson Trail Campground

Other events will also be held at the main beach while paddlers finish the race.