Lester River Kayak Race

Great Outdoors: Kayak Racing

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When the ice finally melts and the river starts running free, these outdoor enthusiasts take their first chance to ride the rapids.

“Duluth is kind of the epicenter on the north shore kayak scene. Everything starts here. Season starts we hit the Lester,” said race director Ryan Zimny.

The season kicked off with the 2nd Lester River kayak race, .where 20 experience racers braved the difficult waters.

“The lester river on a scale of 1 to 10 is probably about a 10. You got some big waterfalls and some big hydrolic type of stuff,” said racer Aaron Erdrich.

“It terms of a kayak race course there’s very few anywhere that are harder,” said Zimny.

And a hard course can take its toll on even the most experienced racers.

“There was a little bit of carnage. but that’s to be expected when you’re racing a class 5. It’s part of the game,” Zimny said.

It’s part of the game that rafters like Aaron Erdrich love.

“It’s full on man from the get go. You drop in from the first rapid, ya know you’re just holding on until the end pretty much,” said Erdrich.

Racers agree though, it’s not about who wins the race, it’s just about getting in the water.

“It’s more than just a race. It’s more of like a boating festival where everybody gets out on the water and gets together once a year,” Erdrich said.

“It’s kind of a reunion because it’s a short season up here so people rally from all over the country. We show up, paddle for a month or two and it’s off to other parts for some people,” said Zimny.

Worry not., if you were interested in rafting, not every course is as difficult as Lester River.

“Not everybody is going to do this kind of a river. There’s levels for everybody, from class 1, 2 all the way up to 5,” Zimny said.

But no matter how difficult the course may be, rafters like Aaron just want people to experience the thrill of the rapids.

“There’s not a lot of people out here doing it. So it’s always good to show everybody what can be done and hopefully someday this is a destination for everybody,” Erdrich said.

A destination that’s not too far away, in the great outdoors.

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