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Sunday, March 3, 2002 -- Ohiopyle, PA
The Lower Yough Wildwater (iPO Event Id#: 4842)
Contributed by Chris Norbury

[Details] [Coverage]

This week two new names sit atop the Mid-Atlantic series downriver rankings, after the first pair of races this past weekend. The weekend was forecast to be cold, and with the level on the Yough sitting at 1.4ft a big turnout was never on the cards. With some of the locals crying off for reasons unknown we had the smallest field at the Yough race in MADS history. That did not detract from the standard of racing, though. All of the paddlers who had gathered for an in depth stroke clinic on Saturday made it back on Sunday, and were joined by new comers Heather Rau and Jeff Mayfield, as well as the Mirage racing machine himself, Bob Gedekoh.

Despite a forecast to the contrary Sunday morning gave temperatures in the 40's, and heavy rain overnight gave us hope (vain as it turned out) that the Yough would be on the rise. To beat the oncoming cold front we raced the sprint through Entrance and Cucumber, then forewent the carry back around the loop and ran the Classic from the bottom of Cucumber to the bottom of River's End.

Dave Hammond, in his first MADS race, dominated both the sprint and classic, ahead of Simon Beardmore who has made his way up from the junior ranks quietly over the past few years. Both of these guys were a considerable distance ahead of former front runners Jess Whittemore and Chris Norbury, both of whom are recovering from (or maybe still in the midst of) major upheavals in their respective lifestyles.

Scott Leroux produced his best MADS result to date with a third place in the sprint, and with a lighter boat, will challenge over the classic distance, too. Chara O'Brien produced the goods once again, although we are still awaiting Chara's use of a wing paddle in a race, which seems scheduled for the Cheat Narrows at present - at least if we have anything to do with it.

In the sprint Beth Karp overcame the hurdle of pogies that were almost as long as her arms and seemed more suited to veterinary practices than paddling, to zoom down the sprint course, overcoming the bogey of Cucumber that had laid her low last summer. Keep an eye out for Beth in the junior race at Team trials in April (April 20th-21st).

Thanks to everyone who came, to Jess Whittemore for the organization, and my personal thanks to Keith Bakclund for the accomadation and a quick boat repair on Saturday evening without which I would probably not have been racing.

Other news on the MADS front - the Tohickon race is officially cancelled, a shame as we had interest in Canadian wildwater paddlers in coming down to race. The drought will probably continue to be a factor throughtout the season - lets hope we can continue with most of the rest of our program. Pray for rain, and lots of it. 20 That makes the next race on the calendar the Lehigh, which undergoes a transformation this year, moving from the somewhat flatter top section to the best section of the river. Ted Newton has worked hard to gain access for us on this section - please support this race if you can. [More Lehigh Info]

The following weekend sees the inclusion of the Elk race in the MADS series for the first time, on Saturday April 6th. This is an exciting course, with a big crowd participating and watching. Check it out!

Then, the final race before Team Trials, the Main Stem Potomac race at Little falls. River levels remain low at present, but this race will happen somewhere on the river that weekend. This will be an excellent chance to peak well for your race in the Team Trials this year with one last race. Simon Beardmore has stepped up to organize - contact him at for details.

MADS has started, hope to see you out there racing soon!