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Go Jump in the Charles River!

16 Feb 2011 12:43 PM | Lisa Vaas (Administrator)
Ten boats at the starting line near Great Plain Ave in Needham. Photo: Susan Cline.Everybody’s jostling. It’s windy. You’re trying to thread yourself and your boat around way too many people. People are jumping in and out at each start of a new leg and each switch-over to new team rowers, some flipping their boats and taking a dunk in the Charles River.

Also, lest we forget, there’s a guy who’s dressed like a Viking waiting at the end-of-race party in Brighton. We have no idea why.

It’s February, and that means it’s time to register and train for the Run of the Charles, the largest canoe and kayak race in New England, which attracts over 1,000 paddlers each year. This is your chance to use the muscles you’ve spent all winter beefing up for a good cause. Put on by the Charles River Watershed Association (CRWA) to showcase the recreational potential of the Charles River and raise funds for the protection of the watershed in eastern Massachusetts, this event includes six races for professional and recreational boaters, of 6, 9, 19, and 24 miles in length.

This year, Women Outdoors is proud to announce that we’ll be backing trip leader Debra Weisenstein and her team participants, whom she’s now recruiting. We’re joining Deb in urging Women Outdoors Paddlers to step up to the plate, step into the boat, and get ready for fun and meaningful fund-raising. The entry fee is $30 for each of 10 team members. Women Outdoors will be subsidizing an as-yet-undetermined amount of that fee.

Guaranteed Winners!

The 24-mile relay race has a category for women's teams, which require 10 women. This category has had only one entry, a team called the Mad Hatters, for the last several years. As Deb points Paddling under a bridge in Newton. Photo: Susan Clineout, Women Outdoors has many active outdoor women who paddle. “We could double the number of women's teams in the race and be assured of a second place finish!” she said. How many races can guarantee you such an outcome?

A Good Cause

Here are some of the good works done by the CRWA that Women Outdoors participation and funding will support:

  • CRWA holds an annual river cleanup on Earth Day

  • The Association participated in negotiations that reduced by 95% the heat discharge and water withdrawal from the river by a plant in Cambridge, so that waste heat from the plant is now used as cogeneration heat for nearby buildings. 

  • CRWA is involved in developing a smart growth plan for wastewater in the town of Littleton.

A more pristine watershed environment and recreational opportunities for New England residents will be the benefits. The Run of the Charles is also a fun event and a challenging competition, but an event where anyone and everyone can enjoy the river at their own speed. It’s your chance to get to know Women Outdoors members across chapters while applying yourselves to a common goal, an opportunity to have the Women Outdoors name noticed, and a potential chance to recruit new The exchange point between legs 1 and 2 in Dedham. Photo: Susan Clinemembers on the riverbank. The paddlers are sure to have a good time, applying themselves in friendly competition and cheering on their teammates.

Meet Your Trip Leader

Deb has been paddling canoes and kayaks for over 30 years and formerly held an AMC class 4 whitewater rating. She served as a leader of AMC whitewater trips for several years. Her company, Atmospheric and Environmental Research, Inc., has participated in the Run of the Charles corporate division race for about 15 years. She’s paddled the race at least 10 times and often helped organize the company team, including running practices at lunchtime and providing informal instruction on the water. Deb has also served as team captain for the last two years. She knows the particulars of each of the 5 race legs and has matched paddlers with race legs and paddling partners for her company team.

Race Particulars

You can find canoes, kayaks, outrigger canoes, and paddleboards on the river come race day. The 24-mile relay race consists of 5 legs. Each leg is about 5 miles long, is paddled by a team of 2 and takes about an hour of paddling. The race starts in Needham where the Charles River is a small, winding stream, proceeds through Dedham, Newton, Wellesley, Waltham, and Boston, and ends at Herter Park in Brighton. More information can be found at the CRWA site.

The race begins at 10 am, but the start is staggered with waves of 10 boats sent off every couple minutes. Some boats won't actually start until 10:20 or later. There are 6 portages on the race, three of them between legs and three within legs. For the portages between legs, both the paddlers The 300 yd portage between legs 2 and 3 at Newton Upper Falls. Photo: Susan Clinefinishing the previous leg and those starting on the next leg are allowed to carry, which provides four people to portage the boat. For the portages within legs, only the two paddlers on that leg are allowed to carry the boat. One leg has no portages and one leg only a short 4-person portage.

Register Now Before the Price Goes Up

The entry fee for the race is $300 if the team enters by February 25. After that, the fee goes up to $350. The team has until March 31 to complete a roster, but substitutions are allowed later, even on race day.

Boat Needed, PFD Mandatory

Here’s what Deb needs to pull together a winning team:

  1. 10 paddlers to fill the team roster, plus 2-4 backups.

  2. the loan of a lightweight tandem canoe for the race (preferably less than 70 pounds).

  3. a team photographer to follow the team down the river and document their efforts.

  4. others to cheer the team on and help celebrate at the finish line.


Date: Saturday April 30, 2011

Time: Race starts at 10 am, ends around 3-4 pm

Individual commitment: 2 ½ hours

Cost: $30 maximum (to be offset by an as-yet-undetermined Women Outdoors subsidy)

Level of Effort: 1 hour of paddling, portages for some team members

Location: Charles River between Needham and Boston, MA

RSVP to: Deb Weisenstein (508-277-4826) dkweis@aer.com

Reply by: February 21


  • 17 Feb 2011 2:41 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    The 24-mile relay will use one canoe and 5 pairs of paddlers. If anyone wants to race a kayak, you could sign up for the 6 or 9 mile race, but you should do that on your own. We're up to 9 paddlers for the relay team, so keep signing up. I'd like at least 12 names so we have alternates.
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    • 24 Feb 2011 6:53 AM | Lisa Vaas (Administrator)
      Just got an update from Deb: She's signed up 2 teams (20 women) for a total of 21 (including the two teams and Deb) but is hoping to get a couple more as alternates. It's not too late to sign up! And if you're not up for paddling, show up, take photos, and cheer our stalwart paddlers on to glory!!!
      Link  •  Reply
  • 20 Apr 2011 5:34 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    Our team of paddlers has been practicing hard for the upcoming race on April 30. If you're in the Boston area that day, come out and cheer us on. Bring your camera and take photos of the crew on the shore and in the water. We'll be paddling a green and a yellow canoe with "Women Outdoors, nurture your nature" banners on them.
    Link  •  Reply

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