Whitewater kayakers will again flood into downtown Cuyahoga Falls to compete in the 2nd Annual Cuyahoga Falls Kayak Race April 22 at 1 p.m.
The race will be held on the section of the Cuyahoga River Upper Gorge, which runs through downtown Cuyahoga Falls alongside the Sheraton Suites and currently terminates in the dam pool above the Gorge Dam in the Summit Metro Parks Gorge Metro Park. The scenic, urban setting provides both spectators and racers alike with spectacular views of the river. In addition, the location offers all the amenities of an urban river, including lodging, restaurants and outdoor supply stores within minutes of the race course.
"Our first race in 2016 drew hundreds of spectators, who came to watch more than 30 paddlers, some of whom are legendary boaters in the paddling community from outside Ohio, compete to win the inaugural Cuyahoga Falls Kayak Race" said Don Howdyshell, lead coordinator for the race. "We received a tremendous amount of support from the local community, including area businesses, the cities of Akron and Cuyahoga Falls, and those who came out just to watch."
The race will start at 1 p.m. April 22. The course will start at the put-in and spectator area below the Portage Trail Bridge. The course will end at Anchor Rock just after the Weeping Cliff rapids below the High Bridge Glens viewing area. The approximately half-mile course includes multiple stretches of Class II whitewater and the Class V water falls Rookie Drop and Staircase.
Cuyahoga Falls Mayor Don Walters said the city supports the race as part of its effort to increase public recreation on all stretches of the river, particularly flat water and less challenging whitewater sections, throughout the city.
"The race spotlights a natural resource unlike those found in any other Northeast Ohio community," Walters said. "It's truly a treasure that we can preserve and admire while leveraging it as an attraction to help support our local businesses downtown."
The city of Cuyahoga Falls recently added two new boat launches, one upstream of the race course and one near the starting area, to improve recreational access for non-whitewater paddlers.
Racers will be judged on their fastest time paddling the course. Only experienced whitewater kayakers with the appropriate paddling gear will be permitted to register. Boaters can register the day of the race or online at http://www.cfkayakrace.com.
Jackson Kayak is sponsoring the race by providing a brand new Antix kayak, which will be raffled off on race day. Raffle tickets will be available the day of the race.
World Kayak is providing race support along with Burning River Adventures, which is providing shuttle service for racers. The Sheraton Suites Akron/Cuyahoga Falls also is a sponsor, and the hotel is allowing public access to its river-side viewing platforms to watch the race. Beau's on the River, the restaurant within the Sheraton Suites, also is sponsoring the race along with Western Reserve Hospital, Sports Alliance of Greater Akron, Redi Print, Extreme Designs Embroidery and Screen Printing, Gray House Media, Fisher Auto Parts, the cities of Cuyahoga Falls and Akron. Local paddling group Keel Haulers Canoe Club also is sponsoring the race.
Volunteers interested in helping can register to volunteer at http://www.cfkayakrace.com.