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Canoe Classic back for 36th edition

September 4, 2018
By JUSTIN A. LEVINE - Outdoors Writer ( , Lake Placid News

SARANAC LAKE - The Adirondack Canoe Classic enters its 36th year, as the three-day, 90-mile paddling race kicks off Friday, Sept. 7 in Old Forge and ends in Saranac Lake on Sunday, Sept. 9. And despite the "Big Dig" at the Lake Flower Boat Launch, the finish line, barbecue and party will still be in its traditional location.

The Classic, better known as the 90-Miler, starts Friday morning and ends that day in Blue Mountain Lake. On Saturday, racers will paddle from Long Lake to the Raquette River, and then on Sunday, paddlers will leave Fish Creek Campground and tackle the Saranac Lake chain of lakes to finish on Lake Flower.

Organizer Brian McDonnell said the race is at capacity with 250 registered boats, including everything from kayaks to eight-person canoes. He said one of the most popular groups is the "C4" class, which is four-person canoes.

Article Photos

Competitors paddle in the 2017 Adirondack Canoe Classic, which will return this weekend, starting Friday, Sept. 7 in Old Forge and ending Sunday, Sept. 9 in Saranac Lake.
Provided photo — Mike Lynch

"It's expanded paddling opportunities for a lot of people," McDonnell said, adding that the larger boats allow families to participate together. "These boats can go very, very fast. It's really competitive."

He said the youngest paddler this year is 10 years old, while the oldest is 85. Participants are coming from around the country, and also from as far away as Panama and Canada. McDonnell - whose paddling business Mac's Canoe Livery is based in Lake Clear - said the Tri-Lakes area has the biggest representation at about 60 people.

"That helps (Mayor) Clyde Rabideau justify his claim that Saranac Lake is the paddling capital of the Adirondacks," McDonnell laughed.

McDonnell said the 90-Miler is the product of collaboration between a lot of Adirondack towns, the Adirondack Watershed Alliance, the Central Adirondack Association, tourism groups and the state Department of Environmental Conservation, and added that local groups in each community will be sharing between $10,000 and $15,000 that has been raised.

"In every community, we're supporting the fire departments, the rescue squads," he said. "It's our way of saying thanks."

McDonnell said that the Saranac Lake and Old Forge Kiwanis Clubs raise money from the event, as do numerous volunteer groups that donate time, first aid and safety boats.

"There's a lot of different groups that utilize the 90-Miler to raise money," he said.

The finish line is located on Lake Flower near the state boat launch, but with a massive environmental remediation project underway there this summer, McDonnell said it's been a real community effort to adjust for parking. He said local businesses like the former Nona Fina restaurant, Monroe Muffler, the Pendragon Theater and North Country Community College have all offered parking, and there will be shuttles from NCCC to the finish line, where there will be awards and a barbecue at the end of the race.

McDonnell said of the 600 or so paddlers, 150 will be doing the Classic for the first time, while there are more than 50 people who have done it at least 20 times. There are several people this year who will be completing at least their 30th 90-Miler.

McDonnell recommends that spectators try to attend the starts on Friday in Old Forge (8 a.m.) and Saturday at Bissell's Field in Long Lake (8:30 a.m.), as well as the start at Fish Creek on Sunday at 8 a.m. or at the finish on Lake Flower at between noon and 1 p.m.



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