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It was the biggest turnout in years, with 60 boats and over 100 racers. The 31st Annual Wild Hog Canoe and Kayak Race to benefit Levy Association for Retarded Citizens (LARC) was a one-day reprieve from economic gloom and doom, a daylong party for anyone up for the adventure.
“It doesn't look like a recession, does it?” asked race organizer Margie McGarva, of Bronson AMVETS Post 88.
“We don't have the numbers yet, but I think we might do better than last year,” said Clyde McGarva, Post 88 commander.
Because last year's contribution to LARC was $6,700, an improvement on that number in a falling economy would be a coup indeed.
Just to finish the Wild Hog is to win. At least, that's what I told everyone who asked me. Photographer Dave Colon and I ran the race again this year, for the third time, and again we finished in the cellar – third-to-last in our class, if you really want to know.
Year before last, we had a really good excuse – we picked up a guy whose boat had foundered on the rocks. Last year, we finished better because we picked a smaller class. This year, we were just slow. Ok, we stopped to take a few pictures.
At least we beat Jeffrey Frazier and Blayn Press. Frazier, a benefits coordinator who works with several LARC clients, and Press, a services provider for people with handicaps, finished second-last in our Recreation class. They will be heartbroken to know they weren't actually last, as they thought when they left the finish area, because they worked so hard for that distinction.
“We dumped the boat six times,” said Press.
“It was all (Frazier's) fault.”
“Last year we thought we were last, but somebody moseyed in behind us,” Frazier said, annoyed at the interlopers' apparent lack of commitment to last-ness.
For the record, we finished in 3:24.36; Frazier and Press finished in 3:52.10. However, Angie Fain and Bruce Weber, the real last place finishers, came in at 4:54.25. That's commitment.
That the race has been around for 31 years, and that some people (Bronson's Francis Hackert and Mark Langley) run it every single year is also commitment; the fact that some people (like Levy County Commissioner Nancy Bell) prep for the race by running the whole course over several weeks beforehand seems to call for involuntary commitment. Plenty of people join the race just for the fun and the challenge, but most people, it seems, are there because it's a fun way to help a good cause.
The Wild Hog race is one of the year's two biggest fund-raisers for LARC, after the autumn Ride to Provide bike run, and the money from the race goes a long way to fill the gap between LARC's funding and the agency's total expenses. LARC provides adult day training, supported living and employment and other crucial services for more than 40 mentally handicapped adults in the Tri-County area. Budget cuts the last three years, and a freeze to the state's ARC services waiting list continue to make conditions difficult for the agency.
LARC Executive Director Betty Walker was happy, as always, that the race proceeds would allow her to make some repairs to the campus or cover some operating costs. She greeted returning racers as they climbed out of the river, pleased to see them back for another year.
“We appreciate all the fund-raising AMVETS does for us,” she said.
“The money they raise will help us out with these budget cuts.”
Official results by class (provided by AMVETS Post 88)
Micah Noda, SeanTurner, First 3:06.52
John Edwards, First, 1:47.20
Francis Langley, Mark Hackert, Second, 2:06.18
Ross McCoy, Dennis Valdez, Third, 2:19.12
Butch Garner, 2:22.44
Trevor Gerlach, KenVanderbeck, 2:31.54
John Vernon, Ivy Holder, 2:43.55
Gregory Merritt, Gary Clark, 2:45.49
Brint Adams, First, 1:52.14
Ned Johnson, Second, 2:09.58
David Rose, Third, 2:11.52
John Francavilla, 2:13.39
Erik Amsbury, 2:15.44
Shari Francavilla, 2:16.30
Knox Bagwell, 2:17.05
Nick Watson, 2:18.34
Joseph Zasciurinskas, 2:26.18
Scott Rose, 2:28.30
Kevin Watson, 2:31.14
Wally Williams, 2:46.21
Corey Haley, 2:59.54
Jim Pointer, DQ (Did not go over log)
Ace Haddock, Christine Haddock, First, 2:21.42
Wesley Rains, Angie Rains, Second, 2:28.40
Curtis Goldtrop, Angela Yancy, Third, 2:47.11
George Garner, Heather Fiducia, 2:54.04
Ray York, Angie Paradiso, 2:59.16
Chuck Harris, Ninfa Harris, 3:15.02
Tracy Meisel, Todd Short, 3:51.34
David Hutcherson, Carey Ronk, 4:53.11
Keith Maynard, Daniel Maynard, First, 1:57.39
Levi Smith, Thad Barber, Second, 2:18.33
Joel Crawford, Jonathan Crawford, Third, 2:25.46
Glen Wollerson, Steve Radtke, 2:26.24
Bryan Conrad, Brook Mercier, 2:28.49
Gregory Mercier, Brad Mercier, 2:36.51
Manuel Davis, Craig Clemmel, 2:37.14
Mike Malcom, Chris Raby, 2:39.20
Ben Prideon, Patrick Langford, 2:29.53
Thomas Brown, Col Rollison, 2:41.49
Robert Bulson, Robert Beck, 2:43.24
Colby Perryman, Terry Owens, 2:43.46
Forrest Grosvenor, Tommy Morvant, 2:51.00
Jerry Richards , 2:51.56
Rick Brown, Doug Kaufman, 2:56.25
Jody Skinner, Billy Weeks, 2:56.39
Carsen Stefanelli, Joshua Pardo, 3:05.33
Jenna McKenna, Dave Colon, 3:24.36
Jeffrey Frazier, Blayn Press, 3:52.10
Angie Fain, Bruce Weber, 4:54.25
Nathan Stewart, First, 2:18.50
Harry Hooper, Tanya Blaisdell, Second, 3:19.55
Ray Brazil, Michelle Shaw, DNF (Injury)
Glennis Williams, Deborah Geddeon, First, 2:25.56
Maribeth Davis, Emily Gore, Second, 2:36.08
Nancy Bell, Rose Fagler, Third, 2:40.11
Jennifer Bray, Christa Kopman, 2:54.18
Leanna Bryan, Tammy Arrington, 3:04.58
Mai Vi Callahan, Megan Meyer, 3:21.51