BY MIKE LYNCH
No canoe has grown in popularity more in recent years at the 90-mile Adirondack Canoe Classic than the C-4, and this year's race from Old Forge to Saranac Lake, N.Y., starting Friday and running through Sunday, was no different.
Overall there were about 70 four-person boats in the event, with about 40 of those falling into the racing classes and 30 in the non-competitive open touring division. That's roughly 280 paddlers in the big boats, which are generally 23 feet long and in the 65-pound range.
Not only did recreational paddlers and amateur racers jump in the boats, but so did some of the biggest names in marathon canoe racing's pro circuit — past and present.
In fact, the only Triple Crown winner since 1993 — there are six — not to show up and jump in a four-person boat was the legendary Serge Corbin.
The Triple Crown is given to pro paddlers who earn the most combined points in the 70-mile General Clinton Canoe Regatta on the Susquehanna River in New York (Memorial Day weekend), the 120-mile nonstop, overnight AuSable River Canoe Marathon in Michigan (last weekend in July), and the three-day la Classique on the St. Maurice River in Quebec (Labor Day weekend).
Triple Crown winners Solomon Carriere and Jeff Kolka, former paddling partners of Corbin, were at the 90-Miler in four-person boats. So were Matt Rimer, Andy Triebold and Steve Lajoie. The latter two have won the past six Triple Crowns, with Lajoie having seven overall and Triebold collecting eight. Rimer has three.
Rimer, Triebold and Lajoie teamed up with Nick Walton to paddle the rivers and lakes of the 90-Miler in a record time of 11 hours, 6 minutes and 29 seconds, beating the former mark by about 18 minutes. That was set by a two-person kayak.
"Honestly, that's about the most fun I've ever had in a boat," Triebold said about his first C-4 race. "It was a blast."
Triebold credited the fun to having a big team, a great course and less pressure than a pro race. The 90-Miler is an amateur event that attracts novices and experts.
It was also a family event for 37-year-old Michigan paddler. About 10 of his relatives were in the race, including his 60-year-old dad Tim and his 84-year-old grandfather August.
Both men were in the stern of C-4s, with Tim's team finishing about 50 minutes behind his son's boat in the men's division and August's team finishing 11th out of 16 boats in the mixed class.
"He can't run or nothing, so he just walks the portages, but he still paddles really good," Tim said about his dad. "He actually paddles all year round."
Overall, about 275 boats entered this year's 90-Miler, featuring around 700 paddlers. Competitors raced in a variety of boats, ranging from one-person guideboats to eight-person voyageur canoes. More than 100 of the boats entered were in the non-competitive open touring class.