Water enthusiasts from around the region gathered to make the 12TH Annual FOLAR Paddle-or-Battle an amazing river event according to participants and volunteers. The Hopewell Marina was buzzing with activity and excitement with 80 paddlers putting boats in the water to benefit FOLAR’s mission to conserve and protect the Appomattox River for all to enjoy. And enjoy they did! Thanks to the help of more than two dozen hard working FOLAR volunteers and event partners, the Hopewell Recreation and Parks Department, the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries and the Prince George County Police Marine Division.
“Everyone was in high spirits and having fun for a great cause,” said Richard Taylor, FOLAR Board of Directors, “It was a beautiful day for it, sunny and clear.”
The new 10-mile Guided Paddle lead by Brad Flynn from the Hopewell Recreation and Parks, proved popular having sold out before the start of the event! Another group of paddlers were happy to complete a shorter 2-mile out-and-back course with guidance from Aaron Reidmiller, Director of Hopewell Recreation and Parks.
The racers took off from the marina at 9:55 a.m. and the fastest, Monty McNeil, arrived 10-miles upriver at the finish-line at the Petersburg Pocahontas Island Park just 1 hour, 52 minutes later. Monty received the award for the fastest Male 50+ category. The other award winners were David Lynch, fastest in the Male under 50 category at 2 hours, 8 minutes; and Suzanne Scanlan, fastest in the Female 50+ category at 2 hours, 26 minutes. Congratulations to all three!
The leisure paddlers enjoyed a scenic, though strenuous 10-mile paddle with not much help from water current or backwind. When paddlers arrived at Pocahontas Island Park they were beaming with exhausted exhilaration. Volunteers provided full-service help with pulling boats out of the water and loading them onto the trailers for transport back to Hopewell. Paddlers simply enjoyed the Finish Line celebration and delicious cook-out lunch.
While the paddling was great fun, most participants were also there to support the event’s cause. Proceeds from registration fees and from the kayak raffle (Drawing to be held December 18, 2019) support the work of the Friends of the Lower Appomattox River to build the 20-mile long Appomattox River Trail as a pathway to conservation, learning, wellness, and prosperity for the region. The 10-mile paddle route provides spectacular views of the many water features, historic sites, and beautiful treelined riverside, highlighting the very things FOLAR seeks to preserve.
“This is an event where everyone wins because it benefits our river and natural surroundings, our community, and ourselves,” said FOLAR Executive Director, Wendy Austin, “The enthusiasm and camaraderie from all kinds of paddlers is so supportive and contagious. Once you get a taste of being on the water of the Appomattox River with all the fun that Paddle-or-Battle offers, you’ll be hooked and planning for next year.”