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Paddlers, grab your paddles: It's time to register for the 2012 Run of the Charles! 

Last year's ROTC was a big success, with Women Outdoors boats claiming both 1st and 2nd place in the Women's division! Can we do it again??? OH YES!!!

If you're not familiar with the race, here are some factoids: The Run of the Charles is the largest canoe and kayak race in New England and attracts over 1,000 paddlers each year. Put on by the Charles River Watershed Association (CRWA) to showcase the recreational potential of the Charles River and raise funds for the protection of the watershed in eastern Massachusetts, this event includes six races for professional and recreational boaters, of 6, 9, 19, and 24 miles in length.

This year, Women Outdoors is proud to announce that we’ll once again be backing trip leaders Deb Weisenstein and Jackie Slivko along with their team participants, whom they're now recruiting. We’re joining Deb and Jackie in urging Women Outdoors paddlers to step up to the plate, step into the boat, and get ready for fun and teamwork. The entry fee is $30 for each of 10 team members, but Women Outdoors will be subsidizing part of that fee.

Guaranteed Winners!

The 24-mile relay race has a category for women's teams, which require 10 women. This category had only one entry, a team called the Mad Hatters, for the last several years. In 2011, we're sad to say, the Mad Hatters didn't compete, so Women Outdoors claimed both trophies. As Deb points out, Women Outdoors has many active and skillful outdoor women who paddle. Simply put, we're pretty darn confident about winning. How many races can guarantee you such an outcome? More to the point, just by showing up, we're inspiring women to get out there and paddle and perhaps even put together an all-women team to compete with us. Bring it on!!!

A Good Cause, Multiple Benefits

The CRWA was a recipient of the 2011 International Riverprize, the world’s most prestigious environmental award. Here are some of the good works done by the CRWA that Women Outdoors participation and funding will support:

  • CRWA holds an annual river cleanup on Earth Day, April 21 this year.

  • The Association participated in negotiations that reduced by 95% the heat discharge and water withdrawal from the river by a plant in Cambridge, so that waste heat from the plant is now used as cogeneration heat for nearby buildings. 

  • CRWA is involved in developing a "smart sewering" plan for wastewater in the town of Littleton, combining climate change mitigation and adaptation with smart economic growth.

A more pristine watershed environment and recreational opportunities for New England residents will be among the benefits. The Run of the Charles is also a fun event and a challenging competition, but an event where anyone and everyone can enjoy the river at their own speed. It’s your chance to get to know Women Outdoors members across chapters while applying yourselves to a common goal, an opportunity to have the Women Outdoors name noticed, and a potential chance to recruit new members on the riverbank. The paddlers are sure to have a good time, applying themselves in friendly competition and cheering on their teammates.

Meet Your Trip Leaders

Deb has been paddling canoes and kayaks for over 30 years and formerly held an AMC class 4 whitewater rating. She served as a leader of AMC whitewater trips for several years. Her former company participated in the Run of the Charles corporate division race for about 15 years, and she’s paddled the race 12 times, often helping to organize the company team. Deb served as team captain and co-organizer for WO's canoe team last year. She knows the particulars of each of the 5 race legs and can match paddler's skills with appropriate race legs. Last year she very much enjoyed getting to know the 20 Women Outdoors team members, and looks forward to working with them, and some new paddlers, this year.

Jackie is a paddler extraordinaire including sea and recreational kayaking, solo and tandem canoeing, and white water rafting. She is a Level 3 sea kayaker, with a passion for the New England coastline from Rhode Island to Maine. Jackie began her paddling days on the Delaware in NY, Pine Barrens of NJ, and Allegheny in PA. She then went on to “conquer” the Colorado River down the Grand Canyon, enjoy the solitude and Northern lights in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area in northern Minnesota, as well as Quetico and Voyageur’s parks on the Canadian border. Locally she has “tripped” on the Allagash river in Maine, “raced” pumpkins on the Connecticut River in Vermont, and more recently “blazed’ passages (after this year’s early snow storm) on the Ware river in central MA. She looks forward to another year with a great group of women on the quiet Charles.

Race Particulars

Come race day, you'll find canoes, kayaks, outrigger canoes, and paddleboards on the river. The 24-mile relay race consists of 5 legs, each about 5 miles long, taking about an hour each. Relay teams use one canoe and swap paddlers for each leg. The race starts in Needham where the Charles River is a small, winding stream, proceeds through Dedham, Newton, Wellesley, Waltham, and Boston, and ends at Herter Park in Brighton. More information can be found at the CRWA site. For those who paddle kayaks, there are 6 and 9 mile races for individuals. You should register on your own for a kayak race, but join the team for practices and the post-race celebration.

The race begins at 10 am. Check-in time starts at 8:30. The start is staggered with waves of 10 boats sent off every couple minutes. There are 6 portages on the race, three of them between legs and three within legs. For the portages between legs, both the paddlers finishing the previous leg and those starting on the next leg are allowed to carry, which provides four people to portage the boat. For the portages within legs, only the two paddlers on that leg are allowed to carry the boat. One leg has no portages and one leg only a short 4-person portage.

Register Now Before the Price Goes Up

The entry fee for the race is $300 if the team enters by February 24. After that, the fee goes up to $350. The team has until March 30 to complete a roster, but substitutions are allowed later, even on race day.

Here’s what Deb and Jackie need to pull together another winning team or teams:

  1. 20 paddlers to fill two team rosters, plus 4-6 backups

  2. the loan of one or two lightweight tandem canoes for the race

  3. team photographers to follow the team down the river and document their efforts

  4. others to cheer the team on and help celebrate at the finish line.

Team practices will start in late March and will be held each weekend until the race, with some practices on the Charles and some at other locations where team members live, such as western Mass., Rhode Island, and Connecticut. We expect each team member to participate in at least one practice session before the race, where we’ll work on efficient paddling form and develop endurance. We’re planning a team potluck for Saturday March 10 in the Boston area to meet each other, plan practices, and acquaint paddlers with the race logistics.


Date: Sunday April 29, 2012

Time: Race starts at 10 am, ends around 3–4 pm

Individual commitment: 3 hours

Cost: $30 maximum (to be offset by an as-yet-undetermined Women Outdoors subsidy)

Level of Effort: 1 hour of paddling, portages for some team members

Location: Charles River between Needham and Boston, MA

RSVP to: Deb Weisenstein (508-277-4826)

Reply by: February 20

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