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Head of the Charles Canoe Race in Cambridge, MA

  • 25 Apr 2010
  • 10:00 AM - 3:59 PM
  • Boston Area
Registration is open now for the 28th annual Run of the Charles canoe race. Last year there was only one canoe in the women's division of the relay race (though lots of women on mixed teams). We are almost guaranteed 2nd place if we can field a team! This is a fun event, as competitive or leisurely as people want to make it. Because it is a tandem canoe race, less experienced paddlers can pair with more experienced paddlers so everyone has a good time. Some of the fun is finding distinctive headwear so that the exchange crew waiting on the bank can spot the approaching canoers. I've done this race many times with my company team.

The race starts on Great Plain Ave. in Needham and ends at Herter Park in Brighton, with 5 legs, each about 5 miles long. Each paddling leg is about an hour of effort. One leg has no portages, the others have portages at the exchange points where 4 people can carry the boat, and two have portages within the leg so the carry has to be done by 2 people only. The first leg takes some maneuvering skill, as the river is windy and boats are close together. Here's a summary of the start location, time and distance for each leg.

Leg 1: 8:30 am check-in, 10:00 am start at Great Plain Ave. in  Needham/Dedham, 5 miles, no portages

Leg 2: 10:00 am check-in, 11:00 am start at Riverdale Park, Dedham, 5 miles

Leg 3: 11:00 am check-in, 12:00 start at Silk Mill Dam, Newton, Upper Falls, 2.5 miles, 300 yd 4-person portage at start, 300 yd 2-person portage in middle

Leg 4: 11:30 am check-in, 12:30 start at Cordingly Dam, Wellesley, 5.4 miles, 1/2 mile 4-person portage at start

Leg 5: 12:30 check-in, 1:30 start at Moody Street Dam, Waltham, 6.1 miles, 1/3 mile 4-person portage at start, 2 ~ 200 yd 2-person portages in middle

I'd like to get 12 people signed up for this race if we do it, so we have alternates in case anyone has to drop out at the last minute (it happens, illness, business trips, etc). If you are interested, please send email by March 26. Let me know about your canoeing experience, whether you can paddle stern and steer (well or only so-so) or would prefer to paddle bow, and whether you want to be competitive or leisurely (so I only pair competitive people with competitive people). You can also let me know if you have time constraints that day (would prefer an early or late leg) and whether you love or hate portages (most paddlers will do at least one, so start lifting weights now!). If anyone has a (preferably lightweight) recreational canoe that could be used in the race, please volunteer it. If we do get enough people for a team, I will plan two practice sessions in April on the Charles on Concord Rivers.

For more information, send email to

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