When event organizer Peggy Navarre, who is also President of the Hudson River Watertrail Association (HRWA), first dreamt up a paddle race that would take place on the Hudson River and raise money she couldn't even imagine its future success. The first annual "Paddle for the Cause" event to raise money for breast cancer research at Annsville Creek on Saturday was the realizaion of Navarre's dream.
There were 40 participants, eight who opted to compete in the actual kayak race, which began in Cold Spring and involved a grueling 17-mile journey that took them north around the historic Bannerman Castle and then south, past the Bear Mountain Bridge and on into Annsville Creek.
The other participants took part in a “poker paddle” where they ran a shorter 11-mile paddle down the Hudson, picking up five playing cards along the way, in an attempt to see who would have the best poker hand once reaching dry land.
“This was such a fun race for me,” said Stefani Jackenthal who finished the competitive race portion of the event with first place honors, traveling the 17-mile route in under three hours.
“I'm glad I got to go north to see Bannerman Castle and the weather was great despite the clouds.”
Jackenthal was a multi-talented contestant as she not only has recently just published her first book entitled Wanderlust Wining, where she writes about her outdoor adventures in connection to various wineries around the country. Jackenthal, a former tri athlete from Manhattan, can also be found cycling, running, kayaking and doing yoga in her spare time.
She enjoyed the laid back nature of the event and was glad to be far north on the Hudson rather than at her usual starting point by pier 66 in Manhattan.
With Kayakers trickling in throughout the midday and food, raffle prizes and more for participants to enjoy, the lawn area outside of Paddle Sport Center was stirring with smiling faces, all triumphant in knowing that they began their Saturday morning doing what they love and for a great cause.
“I am estimating that we have raised over $2,000 with this event but it was important to me that participants did not have to feel a burden to raise a minimum amount and that they could simply donate and raise what ever money that was feasible for them,” said Navarre, who was simply delighted of the turn out.
Navarre’s husband Ira was one of many volunteers who helped make the event run smoothly but either checking in paddlers, shuttling participants back up to Cold Spring to retrieve their vehicles, or simply serving as a safety paddler in the event of an emergency on the water.
“We simply love being on the water,” Ira Navarre said. "We plan many of our vacations around it!”
Jonathan Popolow also participated with his girlfriend Nicole. Popolow just finished with a 3-week kayaking trip on the seas near Greenland where he meandered his way through huge glaciers and got up close and personal with the marine life in the area including whales!
“There was a moment or two that I definitely got a little too close for comfort so this race down the Hudson is much more relaxing for me,” joked Popolow as his girlfriend held up her winning hand in the poker competition which was an all spade flush.
All of the participants thoroughly enjoyed the inaugural event and one lady even shouted out as she came ashore, “put me down for next year!”
Be sure to view the photo gallery above to see some of the highlights of the first annual “Paddle for the Cause”.