90 miler

I have always worn my PFD 100% of the time. And it never bothered me in the least. When I started getting ready for the 90, some of my paddle days were in the mid 90’s, so I left my PFD sit behind me. I couldn’t get over how free I felt and how much cooler I was.

This past Saturday I did the Can You Canoe Cayuga Lake challenge, and they required everyone to wear one. No big deal, and it was pretty choppy out there so I probably would have worn it anyhow. But I missed the freedom and sweat evaporation of not having a PFD on.

Lots of Placid boats in the Solo Rec class. Some of them guys are FAST!

Hey Brent
When are you going to fix it so we can edit our title if we make a mistake?

Jack L

Just curious, if the weather turns bad and it starts to rain, not to heavy but continues through out the race do you use a bailer at times or you bail it out when you have to portage? just thinking thanks.

I was also thinking about the times and if you did the race in around 16 hours then you are moving a little over 5 mph over 30 miles…that’s fast. Do you know what time you have to finish in the first 30 miles so your allowed to continue the next day? I thought I heard there was a time limit.

Cut Off times
Each day has cut off times at different points on the course. If you don’t make the cut off time to the checkpoint you are pulled out at that point and taken to the finish line. You can start the next day in Open

Touring. The times are very generous and are set so that everyone finishes before dark. If you don’t make the cut offs you are going so slow you don’t stand a chance of making the finish before dark. The times are in the paddlers guide and are announced each morning at the paddlers meeting.

You can look at the results on the Adirondack Watershed Alliance website and see in Open Touring some of the slowest times and the DNF’s for those that did not make the cut-offs. You can also see the new course record which is close to 11 hours for the 90 miles.


fog delay
There are two potential problems with the cutoff times.

First, there is there is no provision to advance the cutoff time to compensate for frequent fog delays at the start. If the delay is as much as an hour (rarely that long, but it happens), some paddlers could be hard pressed to make the cutoff. Fortunately, for this reason and others, open touring with the majority of slower paddlers starts in the first wave.

If you happen to be in later waves, up to wave 10, you might not be leaving the start line until up to two hours after the first wave. If you put yourself in a competitive class that happens to start that late, and you probably should have been in open touring, you could have trouble making the cutoff.

While we didn’t have any rain to speak of, I carry a sponge. I set it in front of me and it catches all the water from paddle drips on their way to the center. Every once in awhile I fling it out. I like to keep a dry boat. This works well in a light rain also. I had a bailer along in the gear bag, if there would have been a strong chance of rain I would have taken it in the boat.

I was worried about the cut offs too. I actually considered moving from the C1 Stock class which started in the 7th wave to open touring to make sure I could make the cut. We started about and hour and 10 minutes after the first wave. I think with a reasonable amount of preparation it shouldn’t be a problem.

I noticed that people paddle the 90 for many different reasons. It was very cool to watch the record breaking C4 go screaming by, and just as cool to see the older paddlers just out enjoying the day. One thing common among all the paddlers, they are all more than happy to strike up a conversation.

Good times!

Last year we got caught …
in the heaviest rain that I have ever paddled in when we were in the Raquette river. We had a Susquehanna with a bailer, and even with it open, I had to keep sponging while the bow paddler, (my wife) paddled.

This year we were in a Jensen 17 that I carried and there was only a few cup fulls of water just from my hutting, and each time I picked the boat over my head for the carries, it would dump out.

Don’t worry about the cut off times, unless you are a real slow paddler in which case you should enter the “open touring class” which starts in the first three waves.

Jack L

The first cutoff

– Last Updated: Sep-18-13 7:47 PM EST –

On day 1, the first cutoff is at the entrance to Raquette Lake, 21 paddle+carry miles from Old Forge. You must be there no later than 3:00, regardless of what time you actually start. If you start in wave 1 on time at 8:00 and can paddle at 3.5mph, you will just make it (assumes realistic times for the carries up to that point and slowing on twisty Brown's Tract including minutes at the usual boardwalk put-in delay). Later starts will of course require a faster average paddling speed - a 9:00 start will get you there if you paddle at 4.0mph.

very interesting
Thank you for sharing all that information. I think with continued exercising and more paddling I would like to go and try it for “fun”. I would be one of those guys floating around listening to conversations and watching all the cool stuff going on. I’m not a racer but I would just like to set a goal of finishing the course. Hey, if you get a patch or a sticker for finishing I’m in! Thanks again, be well. Can’t get up there this weekend but going up there for a fall foliage weekend trip in mid October, time to start training! Hmmm, maybe next Spring :slight_smile:

If you are in open touring and want a “paddler” award, you must purchase that separately.

If you are in a competitive class the top three get an award.

Everyone gets a mileage pin.

I lost 9 minutes standing in line on the Brown’s tract inlet boardwalk. Everyone is friendly and patient, no big deal. I made that up in Brown’s Tract, that was fun and felt like I was in a NASCAR race, the solo was tearing it up. Again everyone was very nice and welcomed me to pass. A bit of communication went a long way.

Mileage Pins
The award for finishing is a very nice metallic pin with the 90 Miler logo and the mileage printed on it. The first 9 years are round, then at 10 its more of the shield shape. At 20 you get a gold canoe. Two more to go to reach the gold canoe for me. Its sort of neat to see 1620 miles on a pin on my hat and realize that in the 90 miler I have gone far enough to do the entire Northern Forest Canoe trail round trip. I am not a big gun racer; the biggest joy now is getting new paddlers into the race and thru their first 90 miler. We have had a new paddler in the C-4 5 of the 8 years we paddled it. The ‘family’ part of the 90 miler is a fact; you meet people each year, see people you met before, and talk to people you got to know over the years, from Maine to Hawaii.


The best award

– Last Updated: Sep-20-13 6:06 AM EST –

we every got was when we won the C-2 mixed stock class on their 25th anniversary. It was a keep sake growler of specially brewed beer from the Adirondack Brewing company with all the particulars printed on the jug.
I'm not a beer drinker, so we gave it to good paddling friends Red Cross Randy and Bald paddler with the stipulation that they return the jug after they drank the beer.
It now sits proudly on a shelf.
The wood plaques for first second and third make good fire starters, unless it is your first, in which case you keep it.
Every entrant gets a T shirt, and there are all kinds of goodies that you can buy.
I have my morning cup of coffee each morning out of my 90 miler mug.

Don't do it unless you train up to some 25 milers. The first few days are long paddles

Jack L

I’ve done a lot of racing in my time. I have boxes of trophys, medals and plaques.

My favorites are Pint glasses. Have a whole cabinet full of them and they get used everyday. It’s a constant reminder of things I’ve done. A very cool useful award.

Pine Plaques
The most cherished pieces of pine in my house are the simple pine plaques from the C-2 recreation class in the 90 miler. They are a reminder of when it was a big class, broken into 3 gender classes and each of those into 3 age classes. It was when people did the 90 miler in the canoe they had at home and used for fishing, tripping, and racing. There were Mohawks, Mad Rivers, Old Towns, Sawyers, Grummans, Colemans. There were glass hulls, royalex, aluminum,plastic, wood. People lugged heavy boats over the carrys and beat the water with straight wooden paddles. The survivors from that class are now mostly in open touring. C-2 rec has fewer total boats now, than the number of womens entries at the turn of the century.

The 90 Miler has evolved, most boats are kevlar,C-4 has exploded in size, and there are a lot more paddlers in the race family now; and thats good.



– Last Updated: Sep-20-13 12:44 PM EST –

C4 canoes have exploded the 90-miler. As little as 5 or 6 years ago there were hardly any. Before that, none. This year, combined open touring and C4 class had a total of 68 of them.

I remember when I first started in the voyageur class. There was a huge aqua colored fiberglass voyageur, must have weighed over 300 pounds. It left a blue/green skid mark on the rocks and roots of the trails, and could be seen on the old Brown's Tract boardwalk for years afterward.

For a few years, the dual Campmor voyageurs dominated their class. Even that is no longer true with other faster boats taking their place.

The race has changed considerably over the years. Even the pit crews are more aggressive now, some much more so. It is not the race it used to be.

There have always been aggressive types in the 90 miler. Most used to be in C-2 amateur, now lots of them have moved to C-4. We did the race in 2003 in a 20’ Grumman War Canoe; were in last place, due more to a crew that never sat in the canoe together till Thursday at Old Forge, than it being the shortest canoe in the class with the bluntest bow. We did make the biggest wake and do the best in Brown’s Tract. From 2005 we have campaigned a Minnesota IV. There were only a handful of C-4’s and we started with the War Canoes back then. There were not too many serious racers in C-4 then, but as C-4 got more serious, more C-4 teams moved to Open Touring. Logic was if you don’t have a chance at the podium, why not leave earlier and have clear water in front of you and no crowds at the carries. We are sure to see more evolution in the future, we aren’t paddling Rushton’s anymore.