River Rats are stirring

  • QUICK AND EASY — Signing up for the River Rat Race is quick and easy. Forms are available from the Athol Daily News business office or online at www.riverratrace.com. —ATHOL DAILY NEWS Deborrah Porter

  • —ATHOL DAILY NEWS Deborrah Porter

  • After the finnish volenteers from Northfield Diveteam and firefighter help the canoers out of the river in the 2016 Athol-Orange River Rat Race. Mike Phillips

Staff Writer
Published: 3/13/2018 9:32:33 AM

ATHOL — Harry Wilcox is number one — for now. The 95-year-old-old from Torrington, Conn. and daughter Liz Warder of Orange are the first pair to sign up for the 55th annual River Rat Race to be held April 14.

River Rat Race Director Dave Flint said this is the fifth year the father-daughter duo has entered the race.

“He’s the oldest participant in the race,” said Flint, “and he holds his own. Some people enter the race just once in their lifetime. Some never enter.” 

In honor of their determination, Flint waived the $42 entry fee this year.

“I said if he raced again, he’d be doing it for free,” he said.

A total of $6,000 in prize money is up for grabs on Saturday, April 14, and $1,000 on Sunday, April 15, at the Pro-Am race. The cost is $42 per canoe. Flint explained that $2 of every entry fee goes toward a 50/50 raffle as a sort of consolation prize.

“The last name drawn out of the barrel wins the raffle,” he said. 

If 300 canoes enter, the holder of the last number drawn stands to win $300.

12 teams registered so far

The River Rats are stirring — between nor’easters, canoes have been spotted practicing on Millers River. As of Monday morning, 12 teams were signed up:

Wilcox-Warder; Mark Williams of Wolfsboro, N.H. and Charley Brackett, Fitzwilliam, N.H.; Lee Laflamme and Karyn Jordan, both of Sterling; Don Gazerro of West Bridgewater and Brian Gogan of Brockton; Jack Bassett and Joel Bassett, both of Cape Elizabeth, Maine; Adam Orth of Springfield and Paul Franz of Greenfield; Jeff Defeo of Chester and Sarah Lessard of Quebec, Canada; Alec Davis of Ballston Lake, N.Y. and Roger Henry of Rexford, N.Y.; John Berry of Petersham and Brent Lyesiuk of Orange; Dave Bolduc of Westminster and Shane Stowell of Athol; Kyle Simmington of Orange and Brendon Stoddard of Tully; John Renwick and Jacque Renwick, both of Athol.

The post position drawing will be held Friday, April 13, at 7:30 p.m. in Athol Town Hall, 584 Main St. The first canoe number drawn from the spinning barrel under 200 will receive a prize of two racing paddles made by the Zaveral Racing Equipment company in Upton, N.Y. owned by 10-time River Rat Race winner Bob Zaveral.

Friday night, canoe stickers indicating starting positions and classes and official paddler T-shirts will be handed out and announcements will be made. Those not able to attend the drawing may pick up their numbers at the Athol Daily News on Saturday morning until 11 a.m., and thereafter at the South Main Street bridge start site from the bright yellow Athol Lions Club’s weenie wagon.

The race starts at 1 p.m. at the sound of the cannon blast.

Applications may be downloaded from riverratrace.com and mailed or dropped off in the Athol Daily News business office, 225 Exchange St., Athol, MA 01331.

Paddlers can register at Athol Daily News daily from 8 to 5 p.m. and during extended hours on Thursday, April 12, from 5 a.m. to 8 p.m.

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