PHOTOS AND STORY BY MIKE LYNCH
Michigan paddlers came up big again in this year's 90-mile Adirondack Canoe Classic in upstate New York.
A four-person canoe captained by Bruce Barton of Homer, Mich., recorded the fastest time of 11 hours, 40 minutes and 43 seconds in the three-day race that started Friday in Old Forge and ended Sunday in Saranac Lake. Barton was joined by his son-in-law, Mike Davis, and friends, Weston Willoughby and Zach Mack, who all live in Michigan.
"We didn’t have any problems," said Barton, an Olympic paddler in the 1970s. "We had a pretty good lead every day. It was hard, but we didn’t have anyone pressing us so it felt good.”
The next fastest time in the race was 12:18:42. That came from a team consisting of Dave Hunter of Lake Placid, Mike Clout of Port Colborne, Ontario, Pete McConville of Paul Smiths and David Van Dorpe of Watertown, Mass.
Barton said it was the first time he's had the fastest time in the 90-Miler and has been paddling in it for six years. He comes with family members and friends as a way to relax at the end of the summer.
Barton's wife, Roxanne (Triebold), and her C-4 women's team took first in their class with a time of 12:32:07. Her team consisted of Holly Reynolds of Rochester, N.Y., Gloria Wesley of Pittsfield, Massachusetts, and Rebecca Davis, daughter of Bruce and Roxanne.
“There’s a lot that's unique about this race," Barton said. "It’s just beautiful country and a lot of people come here - not so much on the race circuit, but people who just want to do it.”
About one third of the 275 boats entered in the 90-Miler are in the open touring division, which is non-competitive. The rest are split into classes ranging from solo guideboats to eight-person voyageur canoes. More than 600 paddlers participate.
In recent years, the 90-Miler has attracted a small collection of pro paddlers, like Barton and his friends, who are looking to unwind after a summer of paddling for cash prizes. Winners in the 90-Miler walk away with wooden plaques, but the evenings are more relaxed.
Last year's race attracted several marathon canoe racing Triple Crown winners. Among them were Matt Rimer, Andy Triebold, both of Michigan, and Canadian Steve Lajoie. They teamed with Nick Walton of Michigan to shatter the course record with a time of 11:06:29.
-- Click HERE to see more photos from the annual Adirondack fall gathering.