The 60th Annual Marathon will be on Sunday, May 21, 2017
  Further information and application materials will be posted as they become available around March 01, 2017.
  More Information...

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 2016!

WE WELCOME YOU to a preview of the 59th Des Plaines River Canoe and Kayak Marathon, including the 5.25 mile Minithon, which ends at the same Finish Line where all the post-race activities will take place. We do wish you abundant enjoyment and success with your preparation and participation in these May 22 events! Watch for updated 2016 information on this site and on our FaceBook page.

- Al Pilgrim & Jack Snarr, Co-Chairmen

REGISTRATION is now open online at Or, you may print and mail a paper registration form or leave a message on the Marathon Hotline (847) 604-2445 to have the paper registration form 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 more than four participants per craft must be done by using the aforementioned paper form.

If you do 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.

New safety rule for under 16 year-olds. In the spirit of encouraging younger, less-experienced paddlers to participate in the Marathon, yet be assured of a safe adventure on the river, the Des Plaines River Association now requires that their progress be monitored throughout the entire Marathon or Minithon by an older paddler. Therefore, any participant under the age of 16 on race day must be accompanied, either in the same boat or an accompanying boat, by a competent paddler, 18 or older, who is able to provide any needed assistance or arrange for alternate transportation via the radio crew at the next bridge crossing. Any participant under the age of 10 must be accompanied by a competent paddler, 18 or older, in the same boat. Of course, Adult-Youth Class registrants will automatically fulfill this requirement.

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. Canoes, kayaks and SUPs may all participate in the Minithon.

CLASS SPECIFICATIONS include separate STAND UP PADDLEBOARD CLASSES 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 14, 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 classes identified on May 14 as Medal Classes will be so notified by the registrar when this becomes evident at the close of pre-registration, 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).

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.

SUPPORT FOR CHICAGO VOYAGERS YOUTH PROGRAM  For the past several years, many Marathon participants have opted to add to their $22 registration fee a $3 or more donation to another organization working to enhance paddlesport recreation and/or the recreational use and condition of the Des Plaines River. This year, the Marathon has selected Chicago Voyagers — a particularly appropriate not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization — as the beneficiary. Chicago Voyagers uses the outdoors as a tool to quickly and effectively impact inner city, at-risk youth. Engaging youth in activities such as canoeing (lake, river, wilderness and whitewater), camping and environmental stewardship teaches them the importance of teamwork, of acting responsibly, and of communicating respectfully. Such life lessons empower youth to stay in school, avoid unhealthy behaviors and create a better future for themselves. Please take a moment to review their website for further insight at You may even identify an aspect in which your volunteer talents may be of assistance! Both the Marathon’s SignMeUp web registration and the paper registration will facilitate your contribution to this cause!

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 planning has begun on the removal of the low rise Hollister Dam and Daniel Wright Woods Dam near Route 60, completion dates are uncertain as this depends in great part on State funding.

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 Marathon 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 2015 the winners were: Solo – JB Livengood from Lake in the Hills, IL, and Tandem – Craig Molander from Wilmington, IL and Mark Stuttle from Sycamore, IL. Having now received this recognition in 2015, they will be removed from future 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.

OTHER RACES AND PADDLING EVENTS in Illinois, the US and other parts of the world may be located at

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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HOTLINE: (847) 604-2445 -
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