2023 Illinois Canoe/Kayak Racing

By Don Mueggenborg

Legends say the first canoe race was shortly after the 2nd canoe was built. In Illinois, the Des Plaines River Canoe, Kayak, SUP (Stand Up Paddleboard) Marathon was first run in 1957. (My first race was 1969).

Des Plaines Marathon start


For some it is the camaraderie – being on the river with many other paddlers, telling “war stories” afterward. I have met some pretty interesting people at races.

For some it is the Personal Challenge – can I do it, can I beat the time I did in the last race? It is certainly an accomplishment.

Of course, the ultimate goal in a race is to beat someone else, your friend, your neighbor… or just that guy in the red shirt, or the blue hat. Or to win an award for the best time in your class.


The IPC circuit is 7 races. Championship points are counted for your best four races (one over half) in the same class. Points are awarded with ten points for every first place finish, nine points for a second place finish, eight for third and so on down to zero depending on finish order. A qualified racer has to complete at least 4 out of the seven races (or in the case of this year, six races). If a person competes in more than four, then their best 4 races count for the point total. Points are tallied for the best of four sanctioned races and the person with the most overall points is the overall Statewide Paddling Champion! Trophies are awarded at IPC’s Annual Gathering of the Paddlers, our annual IPC meeting in the Fall.

Races include classes for men, women, mixed, masters, competitive or recreational, sea kayak, recreational kayak, racing kayaks. In some races they will make a class for you if you don’t fit into a class they have.


Saturday, May 6 – Current Buster – Fox River, Pottawatomie Park, St. Charles. There are morning and afternoon races, with no extra charge for the 2nd race. They will provide a class for you.

Sunday, May 21 – Des Plaines River Canoe & Kayak Marathon. Libertyville to Mt. Prospect. The grand-daddy of them all. Usually over 500 boats compete in 21 classes. A long race (18 miles) and a short race (5 miles). Most paddlers are recreational boats.

Sunday, June 18 – IPC Voyageur Landing Race at Voyageur Landing Forest Preserve in Elgin, IL. This is an 8 mile upstream downstream race so no shuttling is required because the race starts and ends in the same location. Total mileage about 8 miles.

Sunday, July 23 – Pontiac Canoe and Kayak Race on the Vermillion River in Pontiac, IL.

Saturday, September 9th – Joe Kowsky Memorial Race on the I&M Canal & DuPage River

Sunday, September 17 – Vic Hopp Memorial Race on the Fox River at Fox River County Park, near Silver Lake, WI

Sunday, September 24 – St Charles Canoe Club Fall Classic Race at Ferson Creek Park in St Charles IL. There are morning and afternoon races. They have classes for any boat you bring including rowing and stand up paddleboards. “You bring a boat we will have a class for it.” Registration is the day of race. The race includes a short course for the Recreation Kayak Class and anyone who does not want to enter the long course. Short Course is 5 miles and the Long Course is 9 miles. All races begin and end at Ferson Creek Park, no shuttling is required.

A complete list of all races can be found here.