Dick Reese Kipona Canoe & Kayak Races
Labor Day, Monday, September 7, 2020 at Riverfront Park, Harrisburg, PA –
Dick Reese Kipona Canoe and Kayak Races Update
The City of Harrisburg has scaled back the events for the Kipona Festival for Labor Day weekend.
Therefore, we are scaling back the Dick Reese Kipona Canoe and Kayak Races for Labor Day and will not have the traditional canoe sprint races in identical 17-foot canoes.
Instead, we will only have an 8-mile canoe and kayak race on the Susquehanna on Labor Day, starting at 10 AM. The start and finish line will be just upstream from the Walnut Street Bridge on the Harrisburg side of the River. We will do three laps of a course along the river. We will meet down on the river walk along the river at 9:30 for a 10:00 AM start. We can also have a shorter race if there is interest. Racers will need to provide their own boats, paddles, PFDs, etc. We will keep this very simple to minimize costs and the possibility of social contact. We will put out some buoys and racers will just need to sign an ACA waiver. There will be no T-shirts. We will probably have medals. Results may be on the honor system with racers timing themselves. Entry fee will still be $15 and will go to support Harrisburg Inspiring Connections Outdoors, a program of the Sierra Club Foundation to provide outdoor opportunities for kids and adults in Harrisburg.
We are still planning to have these races. If they are cancelled for 2020 because of Covid-19, we will post it here!
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 2020, 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 (because of social distancing requirements, we will probably not have this race class in 2020).
- “Anything goes” canoe and kayak sprint – open to all recreational and racing canoes and kayaks.
We are now including a 1-mile canoe and kayak race for kids and adults paddling with kids, and a 6-mile canoe and kayak race for adults.
The 1-mile race for kids and adults paddling with kids will start near the Walnut Street Bridge and go up to the Harvey Taylor Bridge (Forster Street) and back.
The 6-mile race will be 3 laps of a course starting near the Walnut Street bridge, going downstream to the Norfolk Southern railroad bridge, up to the Harvey Taylor Bridge (Forster Street) and back to the start.
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)
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