Live Oak — On Saturday, May 17, an elite group of athletes will gather at the edge of the historic Suwannee River and prepare for a grueling competition: the Great Suwannee River Race.
The homemade raft race begins at Little River Spring at 10 a.m. Rafts are to be constructed in such a way that six team members fit wholly onboard with no extremities touching the water, and no mechanical propellers are allowed.
An hour later, a canoe and kayak race will start from the same area at Little River Spring. The rules are a bit simpler for the canoe and kayak race. There are no crew requirements, no mechanical propulsion is allowed, and each crew has to have a personal floatation device.
The Rotary Club of Live Oak and the Kiwanis Club of Live Oak sponsor the races with participation by other local groups. The event is a fundraiser for the clubs, but most of all a community event to showcase the beautiful Suwannee River to participants from near and far.
Trophies will be awarded to raft; canoe or kayak teams with the best time, as well as second place. Rafts have extra categories for Most Innovative and Team Spirit. The Most Innovative raft team will win $100. Local restaurateur Raleigh Brown enjoyed his participation in the race so much he now gives $250 to the raft judges deem “most fun.” First place finish order in each category receives $50.
The 2013 “Most Fun” prize went to the Rotary Club of Live Oak crewmembers on the Miss Purple Pinkie, a raft that was, to say the least, something of a spectacle. Club members and crew wore purple t-shirts promoting “End Polio Now,” purple wigs and sunglasses.
It won’t be long until this year’s event, so get your plans on the drawing board and have a vessel in the race this year. Entry forms and complete rules available at The Suwannee Democrat 211 Howard St. E., Live Oak and JW Hill and Associates 1105 Howard St. W., Live Oak, FL 32064. Or call 386-362-3300.