Blackburn/James go the distance in canoe race

Sixty-seven-and-a-half kilometres of paddling in a canoe on the Nechako and Fraser rivers, even with the current working for them, was a four-hour grunt for Tom Blackburn and Harry James.

Try as they might, they couldn't seem to leave Pat Turner and his paddling partner Kevin Taylor in their wake once they got into the rhythm of racing last Saturday in the Northern Hardware Canoe Race.

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The two boats were within seconds of each other most of the race on the Alexander Mackenzie route from from Isle Pierre to Lheidli T'enneh Memorial park in downtown Prince George and that's just the way it ended.

Blackburn and James, competing in the Master 1 class, stopped the clock in four hours three minutes and 12 seconds to edge Turner/Taylor and their open men's entry by just seven seconds to win the overall title.

Greg Blackburn and Scott Decker weren't far off the pace, finishing third overall in 4:03:29.

Maya Jacob and Nikki Kassel captured the women's Alexander Mackenzie title. They clocked 4:12:16, the sixth-quickest overall time. Amanda Hallmark/Faye Hallet were the next all-women entry across the finish line in 5:15:40.

Bob Vincent/Bill Briggs (4:12:13) and Richard Blok/Chris Lapointe (4:12:43) were the respective Masters 2 and Masters 3 class winners, finishing fifth and seventh overall.

In the mixed gender category, Rebecca Pohlman/Chris Cupp were the pacesetters (4:13:03). They were about five minutes faster than second-place Catherine Hagen/John Hagen (4:18:45) and third-place Sebastien Courville/Jennifer Courville (4:20:59).

The 25-kilometre Simon Fraser class included five different categories - tandem canoe, solo canoe, solo kayak, standup paddleboard and voyageur canoe.

Petar Georgyev and his son Damian were the quickest of the quick on the Fraser route, capturing the tandem canoe class in 1:37:08. Brian Chadwick and Dan McGaughey weren't far off the pace (1:37:29) and Lynn and Blake Blok (1:39:52) also earned a spot on the medal podium.

Luke Moran was the lone canoe soloist, finishing in 1:52:07, 13th overall.

In the kayak class, Rod Croome (1:53:10), Bini Ball (2:05:11) and Angus Ball (2:12:49) rounded out the top three. Ian Chadwick braved the waters as the only standup paddleboarder and his time (1:49:56) ranked 11th overall.

The voyageur class drew three entries and the Vancouver Ladies won the class in 1:39:31 to place third overall, followed by Graeme Moore and his gang of Caledonia Nordic Ski Club racers (1:39:40, fourth overall) and the Carrier Sekani Ladies (1:57:02).

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