On your mark
The Chesterville Kayak Club hosted their annual Poker Run on Sat., June 8. The kayakers listened carefully to the instructions at the start of the run at Cass Bridge prior to making the trip to the waterfront in Chesterville about 13 km downstream. Moore photo

CHESTERVILLE — The Chesterville Kayak Club hosted their annual Poker Run on Sat., June 8, with the starting line on the Nation River at Cass Bridge, south of Winchester off Highway 43. The club welcomed 97 paddlers this year which is a record for this event with the previous record of 41 being blown out of the water.

Paddler, Darrin Kelly (centre) picks up his second playing card at the first checkpoint near the Nation Valley Bridge. Unfortunately for Kelly, he was not one of the winners. Moore photo

The organizers only planned for 50 paddlers and had only picked up enough food for that amount but when they saw another 47 turn up for registration, they had to make a quick run to Costco in Ottawa to pick-up more food. The club received a grant from the Township of North Dundas of $400 for advertising so they advertised in three local newspapers and had an aggressive Facebook campaign and it paid off. 

They also scored a $300 river grant from the South Nation Conservation Authority to help cover some of the expenses. There were three check points along the route where each paddler received a playing card so the competitor with the highest poker hand at the finish line won first prize. At the end of the race, paddlers had the opportunity to go under the fountain for a chance to swap out one of their cards; almost all participants took the plunge with only a few abstaining. 

First prize was $100, second $50 and third was $25. The organizers were thankful to Mother Nature for the nice warm sunny day that contributed to such an amazing turnout. There was one paddler who was from Tennessee and a few others that came from out of the area. According to organizer, Bonnie MacIntosh, the club recruited new members and had a lot of positive feedback. 

The barbecue was put on by Tim Gault who is famous for catering events at the Lost Villages’ Museum in Long Sault. The winner of the highest poker hand had a full house and there was a three-way tie for second, one of which donated the $50 back to the club. The club donates the money they raise back to a charity of their choice if they make money.