New paddling event drew rave reviews from participants



Photos courtesy of Limelight Muskoka and Randy Mitson

Always pushing the boundaries of what paddling events can be—and creating new experiences for paddlers in the process—the organizers of Muskoka River X launched a new event this year.

The inaugural Algonquin Outfitters – The OX consisted of two days of paddling on Oxtongue Lake and the Oxtongue River: Battle of the Paddle on Saturday, June 15 and Sprint, Tri-Paddle and Marathon races on Sunday, June 16.

“The event was amazing! So much fun for everyone,” said Mike Varieur, co-race director with Rob Horton. “The location on Oxtongue Lake is spectacular and all participants had a wonderful time. No complaints, even with the weather on Saturday.”

The weekend event replaced the former Big East River X and 24 Hours of River X, which were held on the Muskoka River in Huntsville.

Battle of the Paddle on day one was a short-course event with pairs of teams racing head-to-head on the 600m course, progressing to the next round as long as they kept winning. Participants were provided with standardized canoes by event sponsor Algonquin Outfitters.

“The heavy rain kept everyone cool but did not damped the spirits,” said Varieur. The one-design format received a lot of positive feedback, he added. “Not only did it keep the event moving smoothly, it gave everyone an equal playing field, highlighting paddling abilities over watercraft design. This event challenged even the best paddlers but left everyone smiling, laughing and looking forward to next year.”

After an intense day, paddlers ended with a wonderful meal at the Cookhouse Saloon in Dwight and awards for the top finishers:

Female SUP: Danielle Holdsworth
Male C1: Robert Spinks
Female C2: Jen Nicolson and Erin Gaughan (both of Huntsville)
Male C2: Chris Pratter and Oliver McMillan
Co-Ed C2: Michelle Laprade and Ryan Stepka


Day two included a 10km Sprint, a 30km Tri-Paddle or a 40km Marathon. Participants started from the Algonquin Outfitters Oxtongue Lake main dock and paddled south into Oxtongue Lake and then up the beautiful Oxtongue River to the base of Ragged Falls. Returning downriver, teams completed their 10km loop at AO’s dock.  For the new Tri-Paddle class, participants changed their watercraft for each loop, paddling 10km on each of a stand-up paddleboard, canoe, and kayak. For the 40km teams, four loops were on the menu.

Mother Nature provided a spectacular day for the long-distance paddlers. The new location on Oxtongue Lake brought out a variety of boat classes which included SUP, K1, Rec/Stock/Marathon Canoe, and, for the first time, C4.

The new Tri-Paddle category, essentially a triathlon for paddlers, was a highlight, said Varieur. “This is new type of event in the paddling community and challenged athletes to try new types of watercraft that they may have never paddled before. It was very well received.”

Winners of the different categories were:

10km Female: Tara Harpur
10km C1: Jen Nicholson
10km C2 Rec: Nathalie Mantha and Sasha Richards
10km C2 Stock: Jennifer Macmillan and Megan Stephenson
10km K1 High Performance: Tara Harpur
10km K1 Touring: Megan Sheppard
10km SUP: Karine Mori

10km Male: Michael Walmsley
10km C1: Tom Forbes
10km C2 Rec: Jacob Heinz and Noah Webster
10km K1 Fast: Michael Walmsley

10km Female/Male: Jean Jennings and Michael Jennings
10km C2 Rec: Jean Jennings and Michael Jennings

30km Female: Danielle Holdsworth
30km Tri-Paddle:  Danielle Holdsworth

30km Male: Jakob Van Dorp
30km Tri-Paddle:  Jakob Van Dorp

40km Female: Rory Bohm
40km C2 Marathon: Christine Archer and Erin Ussery
40km K1 Fast: Tessa Jennison
40km K1 High Performance: Rory Bohm

40km Male: Roburt Tranter
40km C1: Arthur Walker-Jones
40km C2 Rec: Johnathon Ayles and Neal McCain
40km C2 Stock: John Eastmure and Steve Jones
40km C4: Mike, Mike, Tom and Robert
40km K1 Fast:  Robert Ross
40km K1 High Performance: Roburt Tranter
40km K1 Touring: Dorian Malloy
40km SUP: Mike Crouzat

40km Female/Male: Michelle Laprade and Ryan Stepka
40km C2 Marathon: Michelle Laprade and Ryan Stepka
40km C2 Rec: Katie Keefe and Joshua Keefe
40km C2 Stock: Jennifer Courville and Sebastian Courville

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