While the weekend of Sept. 7 may have been an ordinary one for most people, it was anything but for the Marathon Canoe Racing Team. The team of 19 paddlers, led by captains Gus Huiskamp ’21 and Roger Danilek ’21, competed in the Adirondack Canoe Classic alongside Director of Outdoor Leadership Andrew Jillings.
The race customarily begins in Old Forge on the Friday after Labor Day and snakes its way through a series of lakes and rivers supplemented by portages over the course of three days before ending in Saranac Lake.
Jillings, on a quest to paddle in all the classes of boats admitted to the race, conquered the challenge in a one-man guideboat. Joining him in the Hamilton fleet were three C-4 four person canoes and one voyageur canoe, which seats 8 and is colloquially known as a war canoe.
The war canoe was filled out by students of a variety of class years. The boat was captained by Marley Napier-Smith ’21 and her motley crew comprised Cam Baker ’20, Emma Stout ’20, Avery Cook ’21, Adele Hinkle ’22, Lydia McGinn ’22, and Dylan Morse ’22.
Baker stepped in to fill the absence of veteran paddler Emmaline Keene ’20 at the last minute due to injury, and Ruth Coolidge ‘21 also removed herself from competition as a result of an injury. The two braved early morning wake-ups along with the rest of the team for the two weeks between returning to campus and the start of the race, and deserve the same credit.
The first C-4 was filled by Gus Huiskamp ’21, Wade Steely ’20, Devin Hebert ’20, and Keith Ruggles ’20. The other two were composed of Roger Danilek ’21, Emma Szegvari ’21, Asha Grossberndt ’21, Hannah Katz ’21, and Alex Nemeth ’22, Greg Varney ’22, Garrett Lualdi ’22, Sosha Stecher ’22, respectively.
The Hamilton boats raced competitively this year paddling hard from Old Forge to Saranac Lake. Day one begins in Old Forge and ends at Blue Mountain Lake with several portages in between. Day two begins on Long Lake (which is twice as deep as it is long) and ends near Tupper Lake at the boat launch fondly known as The Crusher on Raquette River. This day is solely composed of Long Lake and Raquette River. The third and final day begins at the NYSDEC Fish Creek Campground off of Upper Saranac Lake and moves through the Middle and Lower Saranac Lakes to finish on Lake Flower in the town of Saranac Lake.
Cam Baker ’20, spoke of the experience fondly, “I’m very grateful for the opportunity to go out and do something completely crazy with this group of people that I may not have met otherwise.” Others on the team echoed this sentiment. Captains Huiskamp and Danilek said “We’re incredibly proud of our team and especially thankful for the Pit Crew who supported us along the way, we couldn’t have done it without them.”
The Pit Crew this year was a revolving door of helping hands and smiling faces. Lead by Emmaline Keene ’20, Lillian Norton-Brainerd ’23, Erin Walicki ’20, James Southwick ’20, and Jade Thomas ’20 hyped the paddlers up and supported them on portages and at camp. The team of five ran alongside the boats during carries, feeding the paddlers Oreos, halves of Snickers bars, water and Gatorade. They also took care of cooking dinner and setting up camp, making sure that the weary paddlers came home to completed tents and hot stoves.
The 90-Miler Adirondack Canoe Classic is organized by the Adirondack Watershed Alliance with assistance from the NYSDEC and numerous tourism, civic, and business organizations along the 90 Mile Blueway from Old Forge to Saranac Lake.
Jillings completed the race in 17:44:20, good for second in his class. The boat led by Huiskamp finished with a time of 16:34:05, the boat led by Danilek in 18:10:14, and the boat led by Nemeth rounded out the Hamilton C-4s with a time of 19:14:53. The war canoe rounds out the Hamilton fleet and finished in 18:15:37. Full race results can be found here: https://www.adirondackalmanack.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/2019-90-Miler-Results.pdf