Putting on a national championship event is hectic, takes a lot of work, and sometimes doesn't go quite as expected. However, paddlers are accustomed to going with the flow.
"We've been preparing for a year," U.S. Canoe and Kayak Association (USCA) President Susan Williams said.
There are several different venues - Chapman State Park hosts the sprints, the marathons use the Allegheny River from Kinzua Dam to Betts Park and possibly a small portion of Conewango Creek, and Betts Park is the finish line for marathons as well as the site of the running portion of the biathlon and the sign-in for the orienteering.
Times Observer file photo
Competitors in previous UaSCA race on Allegheny River
Instructor certification course will take place at the Warren County Chamber of Business and Industry (WCCBI) office at 308 Market St. in Warren.
The spaghetti supper and the annual meeting will be held at the Allegheny Community Center on Clark Street.
Hundreds of paddlers have to know where they're going. Once they get there, race officials will put their boats through 'jigging' - measuring various dimensions to make sure each craft fits in the category. Every boat should be jigged before each race and boats must be jigged immediately after a race in order to be declared a top-five finisher. This year, officials will also make sure each paddler at the Kinzua Dam tailwaters is wearing an approved life vest at the start of the race. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, in response to two drownings in the area earlier this summer, has required the use of personal flotation devices on Corps waters.
There are awards ceremonies each day, vendors at Betts Park throughout the week, shuttles from finish lines to start lines, rescue organizations, and volunteers.
There is a designated coordinator for the nationals event - Karl Vogel - and seven other officials in charge of various portions of the competition. "Priscilla Reinertsen is in charge of awards, Steve Miller for orienteering, Tom Walton for biathlon, Bob Spain for instructor training, Norm Ludwig for boat jigging, Joan Theiss about the semi-annual business meeting, and Paula Thiel for registration," Williams said.
In all, it's pretty hectic.
"Although it's sometimes like herding cats, paddlers are usually an amicable bunch who can go with the flow - pun intended -when the unexpected occurs," said. "There are a lot of good and experienced people helping at every step of the way."
It's not just work for Williams and other USCA officials. Their busy schedules allow some time to join in the fun.
"Most officials do race," she said. "There are always a few officials who are not racing on any given day and are available at any time, we take turns."
The races begin Tuesday, with sprints at Chapman State Park. Wednesday's orienteering (actual location secret until race day) and biathlon are based at Betts Park. On Thursday there are more sprints at Chapman. Marathons - following the river from Kinzua Dam to Betts - are Friday, Saturday and Sunday.