Dick Reese Kipona Canoe & Kayak Races
Labor Day, Monday, September 2, 2019 at Riverfront Park, Harrisburg, PA
In 1916, Kipona began as a canoe race along Harrisburg’s waterfront. The races were part of the Kipona celebration for many years and then experienced a long hiatus. In 1992 the Kipona Canoe Races were resurrected due the efforts of Mr. Richard Reese, eight-time Kipona High Point Trophy Winner.
In the fall of 2001 the City of Harrisburg honored Mr. Reese by officially naming the races “The Dick Reese Kipona Canoe Races” for his contributions and commitment to the races.
In 2019, the Dick Reese Kipona Canoe Races will benefit Harrisburg Inspiring Connections Outdoors, a program to provide outdoor experiences to Harrisburg youth and teens which is affiliated with the Sierra Club Foundation.
Held annually on the Monday of Labor Day Weekend, the Dick Reese Kipona Canoe Races are the only canoe races of their kind, a true measure of paddling skill with lots of fun thrown in as well! This is a true “citizen’s race” where everyone has a chance to participate, whether you are a regular paddler or not.
All canoe sprint races are run in identical 17-foot touring canoes, using straight-shaft paddles. Canoes, paddles, and life-jackets are provided by CCGH. The sprint races will be held in the following classes:
- Boat Sponsors Race (C-2)
- C-2 Adult/Youth
- C-2 Novice (never raced before)
- C-2 Pat Reilly HICO Challenge (a youth race for kids under 16)
- C-2 Men
- C-2 Women
- C-1 Men – Dick Reese Challenge
- C-1 Women – Mariah Quant Challenge
- C-2 Mixed
- C-4 War Canoe
We are now including a race from the Walnut Street Bridge upstream to the end of McClay Street (near the Governor’s Mansion) and back, which will be about 3 miles total. For kids and adults paddling with kids, we are having a race up to the Harvey Taylor Bridge (Forster Street) and back, which will be about 1 mile total.
For these “distance” races you can bring your own boat and paddle or you can paddle one of the 10 tandem canoes we have available. The distance races will be in the following classes:
- K1 racing (race kayaks and any composite sea kayak)
- C1 racing (any composite canoe)
- C2 racing (any composite canoe)
- C1 recreational (any plastic or aluminum canoe)
- C2 recreational (any plastic or aluminum canoe)
- K1 short rec (plastic kayaks 12 ft and under)
- K1 long rec (plastic kayaks over 12 ft)
- K1 kids (paddlers under 16 years old)
All races will start just upstream of the Walnut Street Bridge on the Susquehanna River in Harrisburg, PA. The “distance” races will go upstream and turn around a buoy and return to the start line. The 3-mile race will turn near the end of McClay Street. The 1-mile race will turn at the Harvey Taylor Bridge. Racers bringing their own boats can launch them from the City Island boat ramp (PA Fish & Boat Commission launch permit required) or from the river walk way after carrying them down the steps from Riverfront Park. Parking is available on City Island and on Second Street in Harrisburg.
Registration information is available here.
Sponsors of the event in 2019 included CCGH, the late Mr. Richard Reese (1929-2016), the City of Harrisburg, Robert H. Davis, Attorney at Law, Susquehanna River Trail Association, Peachtree Restaurant & Lounge, Smigel Anderson & Sacks LLP, the Susquehanna Single Malt Scotch Club, Bass Pro Shops, and Cocoa Kayak Rentals of Hershey