Local paddlers’ odds increased for winning: new category created for River Rat Race

  • Athol Lions Club and River Rat Race Committee members accept a $1,000 sponsorship donation from Athol Savings Bank for the 2019 Athol to Orange River Rat Race. From left — Lion Joanne Rich, Tabitha Fournier, Community Banking Officer, Lion Kathy Chaisson, Race Committee, the Soon-to-be-named race mascot in background; Lion Dave Flint, Race Director, Jason Rushford, Race Committee, Julie Walsh, ASB Executive Assistant, Lion Cindy Allen, King Lion Joe Allen with granddaughter, Lion Dee Wheeler, Race Committee, Lion Becky Fortin, Race Committee, Lion John Baldasaro, Race Committee. Also on the committee are Dennis Carey and Tom Lozier, and Lions Betty Miller, Bradly Arnot, and Deborrah Porter. —Julie Walsh, Athol Savings Bank

Published: 3/15/2019 2:15:57 PM

ATHOL — The river rats are slowly starting to emerge from their warm winter habitats. Six more entries arrived at the Athol Daily News race headquarters for the April 13, Athol Lions Club’s 56th Annual Athol to Orange River Rat Race down the Millers River.  And the race sponsors are stirring as well. Long-time race supporter, and one of the top sponsors, Athol Savings Bank, presented its annual $1,000 race donation to members of the committee gathered at ASB’s main office service center Friday morning. 

“Athol Savings Bank has been doing this for the last 20 years,” said River Rat Race Director Dave Flint, “we have been committed to paying out $6,000 in prize money each year – and it is because of the generosity of Athol Savings Bank, and all our sponsors, that we’ve been able to do that.” Flint noted that it takes the entry fees of 265 canoes to “break even.”  He said, “we haven’t had that number in the last few years – we’ve had 218, and 225 canoes entered — but we haven’t cut back on the prize money because of the generosity of the sponsors.” 

He encourages everyone who turns out for the post position drawing on Friday, April 12 at 7:30 p.m. at the Athol Town hall, to take note of all the business banners hung around the hall. These are the race sponsors. 

He also noted that the Athol Savings Bank donates “thousands of dollars” to the Athol YMCA each year, and donated a large sum which helped the Athol Lions Club build the community Richard Phillips Pavilion at Silver Lake Park, used by the community and numeous groups and organizations throughout the year.

The River Rat Race Committee this year has created a new category for teams that are from the nine town North Quabbin region including Athol, Orange, Petersham, Royalston, Warwick, Wendell, Phillipston, New Salem and Erving. “We’re trying to encourage more people who are on the fence about doing it because they know they can’t beat some of the other paddlers,” said Flint. “It will give local people an opportunity to win a trophy and cash prize.”

Charley Brackett of Fitzwilliam, N.H. and Mark Williams of Wolfboro, N.H. are the sixth team to sign up. Also registered are Rob MacKay and Cy Survell, both of Berlin, MA, and septuagenarians Bruce Duquette of Adams, MA and Eric White of Williamstown, MA. Traveling long distance from Cape Elizabeth, Maine are Jack Bassett and Jack Sands. Winchendon residents Chris Duguay and Beth Duguay will hit the river in a recreational canoe. Hailing from Otego, NY, site of another spring race for paddlers, are Scott Jordan and Doug Leveille.

The River Rat Race is organized by the Athol Lions Club and is open to all, from professional paddlers to newcomers. Deadline to register is Thursday, April 11. Entry fee is $42 per canoe. More information, including rules and registration forms, can be found at www.riverratrace.com. Applications are also available at the Athol Daily News front office, 225 Exchange Street, Monday through Friday 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.


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