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ffRacers travel 120 miles—roughly the distance from Philadelphia to Washington, D.C. The race is split into eight legs that range from seven to 21 miles.

f fA typical team consists of four to six paddlers, an onshore support team that helps trans- port equipment and set up camp, and two or more adult leaders who supervise youth and transport the support team between checkpoints.

ffCanoes travel between 8 and 10 miles per hour during the race— especially impressive considering the White River is more or less flat water.

sore. “Maybe we were a little bit under- prepared,” says Andrew Rhoads, 19. “This is a lot like a marathon.” Indeed, Crew 300’s Stephen Lynn

says it’s easy for youths to underesti- mate the effort. “When you get into a race like this you’re going maxed out for the whole 17, 18 miles of a leg.” Lynn and other veterans say the

final day and, in particular, the final leg, is the toughest. The legs are 21 miles, 12 miles, and then 8.8 miles to Batesville below a lock where the water is low and flows slowly. And, making it even more difficult, the day turns out to be the hottest and

most humid of the race. One paddler is pulled from a canoe and treated by emergency personnel after the second leg. In the final leg, two lean teens—

Jared King, 17, and Chris Williams, 16, are paddling for Russellville, needing to hold a slim lead over New Brighton. “We’ve just got to stick with them,” King says. “You can do it,” replies a paddler

from another team. They can. Jared and Chris beat

New Brighton by a narrow 14 seconds, securing Russellville’s win in the Open Cruising class by a cumula-

f fCrew 300’s speed record from 2008 may never be broken. The team finished the 120-mile course in 11 hours and 41 minutes—more than two hours faster than any other team in the race’s history.

ffThis race isn’t for everyone. Competitors must be at least 14 years old and registered members of a Venturing crew, Boy Scout troop, or Varsity team.

ffEach category includes three divisions: Beginner, Novice, and Advanced. Beginners only compete on the first day of the race, meaning it’s the perfect opportunity for newcomers to get their feet wet—so to speak— before watching experienced racers on the other days.

ffAdults can join the fun, too, by entering in the appropriately named Old Timers’ division.

ffSwimming in the White River is discouraged. Not only will it slow your team down, it’s also danger- ous. Water temperatures, even during summer, are between 50 and 60 degrees Fahrenheit.

f fBreakfast and lunch are up to the individual teams, but dinner is provided as part of the $35 registration fee. Past dinners have included crowd-pleasing favorites such as spaghetti, pizza, or hamburgers.


tive 2 minutes and 26 seconds during the 120-mile race. Bogalusa comes in third, a little more than 8 minutes back. But A.J. and his teammates from Bogalusa Crew 313 dominate the boys’ Aluminum Canoe Novice class, winning by more than an hour and a half. Latus says, though, that some of the most coveted awards from the race don’t come for winning any particular class. They’re the Sportsmanship Award, which goes to the other team from Bogalusa, Crew 785 (a team with a bare-bones budget that recycled aluminum cans to raise money for their trip) and the Spirit Award, which went to Crew 27 from Little Rock. Latus, Lynn, and others say

winning isn’t what makes the race great. It’s meeting the challenge. “You never fail until you stop trying,” says Dora Mohon, a longtime veteran of the race and an Advisor with Crew 200. “Anybody who paddles the race and finishes is a winner.” ¿

JIM MORRISON has written for National Wildlife, This Old House, and Family PC magazines and regularly contributes to


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