The 58th Annual Marathon was on Sunday, May 17, 2015
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The Des Plaines River Canoe and Kayak Marathon, founded in 1958 by Ralph Frese, is the second oldest continual canoe race in the United States. The race is 18½ miles on the beautiful and historic Des Plaines River. There are numerous classes to accommodate people of all ages and levels, with a 5.25-mile non-competitive Minithon option. Everyone is welcome to participate. First time participants, repeat paddlers, and serious competitors can all enjoy the excitement, challenge, and camaraderie that this historic event provides.

Click here for a video preview.

The event is co-sponsored by the Des Plaines River Association and the Forest Preserves of Cook County
and supported by Lake County Forest Preserves and L.L.Bean, Inc.

Sign Up for the Des Plaines River Canoe and Kayak Marathon

Welcome 2015!


WE WELCOME YOU to a preview of the 58th Des Plaines River Canoe and Kayak Marathon, including the second 5.25 mile Minithon, which ends at the same Finish Line where all the post-race activities will be happening. We do wish you abundant enjoyment and success with your preparation and participation in these May 17 Marathon events!

- Al Pilgrim & Jack Snarr, Co-Chairmen

REGISTRATION will open March 1, 2015, and will be primarily by the internet-based system employed now for several years. Alternatively, beginning March 1, 2015, you may print and mail a paper registration form or leave a message on the Marathon Hotline to have paper information and application materials mailed to you. One partner can register up to four occupants of a craft, order t-shirts and make payment, although other paddlers or passengers must signify agreement to the waiver via an automated email process. Registration of greater than four participants per craft must be done by using a paper form.

5.25-MILE MINITHON OPTION Again this year there will be an option enabling participants the opportunity to paddle a shorter distance, with this option starting at Potawatomi Woods in Wheeling. Cars may be parked in the adjoining lot. A map and further detail on parking and post-race-only shuttle service will be included in the information emailed to you following registration. Note that the previous 9 mile take-out at Rivershire Park is no longer supported by a shuttle bus.

2014 POSTPONED REGISTRANTS who submitted requests to postpone participation to 2015 will be notified directly how to register at the discounted rate.

CLASS SPECIFICATIONS again include a single STAND UP PADDLEBOARD CLASS for men and women, enabling SUP participants to compete for awards and recognition as with canoe and kayak classes. SUPs may be of any length, but must be paddled in a standing position with a single blade paddle.

MEDAL CLASSES will be identified at the close of pre-registration on May 9, one week before the Marathon, as those classes with five or fewer craft pre-registered. Medal class craft will be tracked and timed identically to other larger, more competitive classes, but first place finishers for this year will be recognized with a gold medal rather than the customary Voyageur trophy. Pre-registrants in Medal Classes will be so notified by the registrar when this becomes evident at the close of pre-registration on May 9, and may, if they wish, switch to another class at the registration desk on race day. The addition on race day of craft to a Medal Class will not alter the Medal Class status for this year. Medal or Trophy Classes will be determined each year based on the pre-registration numbers for the class (five or less, or more than five).

If you anticipate including PASSENGERS in your boat, beyond two full registrants, their fee will be only $5.00 each. We hope thereby to encourage participation by young family members. Craft with greater than two occupants will automatically be assigned to the No Contest Class. Dogs ride free, but may not dog-paddle.

BOAT NUMBERS must be picked up and applied to your craft at the Start of the Marathon or Minithon, per follow-up email instructions announcing your Start time and providing additional procedural details.

PARTNER DONATION FOR 2015 For the past several years we have offered participants the opportunity to support an organization whose efforts are to preserve the Des Plaines River. This year we are expanding that effort and offer you the opportunity to support PRAIRIE RIVERS NETWORK. As stated on their website, "Prairie Rivers Network is Illinois' advocate for clean water and healthy rivers. We champion clean, healthy rivers and lakes and safe drinking water to benefit the people and wildlife of Illinois. Drawing upon sound science and working cooperatively with others, we advocate public policies and cultural values that sustain the ecological health and biological diversity of water resources and aquatic ecosystems". Find out more at

MORE DAM BUSINESS With Dam #2 below the finish line now gone, don't forget to stop and take out at the ramp immediately after crossing that Finish Line! Further information on the Forest Preserves of Cook County's other dam removal plans may be examined by clicking here. While work has begun on the removal of the low rise Hollister Dam and Daniel Wright Woods Dam near Route 60, it is not yet certain that these Lake County dams will be entirely removed by Marathon Day.

TWO GRAND MASTER AWARDS will again be given in recognition of continued strong showing relative to peers of all ages in a class. One will go to that solo paddler whose percentile finish in his or her class is highest among all solo competitors over 70 years of age on race day. The second will go to that tandem paddler whose percentile finish is highest among C2 or K2 paddlers over 70, regardless of who his or her partner may be. For 2014 the winners were: Solo – Ken Schenatski from Chicago, IL, and Tandem – George Werderich from Bartlett, IL. Having now received this recognition in 2014, they will be removed from 2015 consideration.

WE ENCOURAGE YOU to partake of the opportunities at the Finish Area to wind down after completing the race, pick up your patch and t-shirts, enjoy the quality food and music and view special exhibits and celebrate the award presentations.


Sponsored by: Des Plaines River Association | Cook County Forest Preserve District
Supported by: Lake County Forest Preserves | L.L.Bean.
Sanctioned by: Illinois Paddling Council | The United States Canoe Association
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