Air temperatures were near freezing, snow patches sat on the banks, icicles hung from the logs floating in the river and the water was, well, let us just say mighty cold.

But with all that stated, 170 paddlers in 100 watercraft simply had to shake off the doldrums of a long, harsh Maine winter as they participated in the 32nd annual St. George River Race Saturday on the fast waterways over a course that began in Searsmont and ended in Appleton.

The event, sponsored by the Waldo County YMCA, is the first of the whitewater paddling season.

Fred Ludwig of Houlton, paddling his kayak, was the fastest along the course in 42 minutes and three seconds. He bested runner-up Ryan Linehan of Westport Island (42:17) by a mere 14 seconds. Ludwig is a nine-time winner of the St. George race.

“Part of the reason I’ve been able to win so often is that I paddle one of the fastest boats made for that type of water — known as a wildwater kayak,” Ludwig said.

Ludwig, who will turn age 51 on Monday, March 28, has won the St. George race in three different decades (and nearly four as his first first-place finish came in 1990). He said he had to skip the race last year due to a newly-diagnosed heart condition called atrial fibrillation. He is on medication “that may slow me down a bit, but at least I feel quite good; and glad to be able to still compete.”

Ludwig said water level on the St. George River was probably a bit below average, “but it was fine. For me, the wind was more of a problem than the cold — but I do hope it will be a bit warmer for the [Passagassawakeag River Race on Saturday, April 2].”

If Ludwig finishes first in the Passy next weekend, it will be four decades of winning that race.

The St. George River Race starts at St. George Bridge in Searsmont Village. The race features three miles of dead water, one mile of rapids and two more miles of dead water and curves, along with one Class III drop. The race has Class II-III level rapids depending on the water level.

The St. George race will be followed by the 38th annual Passy River Race on Saturday, April 2 at 11 a.m. with registration 8:30-10:30 a.m. at Littlefield Farm on Savage Road in Waldo.

The Passy race, also sponsored by the Waldo County YMCA, begins at the Littlefield Farm, with the first two miles consisting of flat water with many curves. After a short stretch of Class II rapids, a two-mile stretch of flat water is enjoyed again prior to a great deal of Class I, II and III whitewater rapids for a mile and a half, leading to a flat water stretch to the finish.

Preregistration for the Passy can be made by calling the Waldo County YMCA at 338-4598.

The results from each division from the St. George River Race, with paddlers’ residence if listed, were:

Century Racing — 1, Paul Brown, Swanville, and Rick O’Donald, Newburgh, 47:17; and 2, Eric Taylor, Dedham, and Bob Miller, Harmony, 51:40.

Century Recreational — 1, Maber Cronkite, Etna, and Ralph Robinson, Bucksport, 49:59.

Clydesdale — 1, Mark Risinger, Newburgh, and James Belnap, Hudson, 54:27; and 2, Sam Betts, Brewer, and Dustin Campbell, Winterport, 59:07.

College — 1, Matthew Apeseche, Brunswick, and Jessica Everett, Brunswick, 1:02:36.

High School — 1, Alex Introne, Orono, and Eliot Lamb, Orono, 48:46.

Junior/Senior (ages 12 and younger) — 1, Max Dingle, Carmel, and Matt Dingle, Carmel, 49:34; 2, Katie Owen, Orono, and Jeff Owen, Orono, 49:44; 3, Nolan Mabee, Bangor, and James Mabee, Orono, 50:21; 4, Brady Burke, Newburgh, and Clayton Cole, Corinth, 55:38; 5, Andrew Cross, Morrill, and Don Cross, Morrill, 55:49; 6, Aidan Stearns, Blue Hill, and David Stearns, Blue Hill, 58:26; and 7, Jack Burke, Newburgh, and J.D. Burke, Newburgh, 1:0:33.

Junior/Senior (ages 13-16) — 1, Christopher Deane, Canaan, and John Goulet, Bradford, 48:00; 2, Yuval Boss, Orono, and Bob Hessler, Ellsworth, 48:52; 3, Rod McLain, Stockton Springs, and Isaac Arabadjis, Orono, 49:49; 4, Bill Deighan, Newburgh, and Gabe Wiseman, Bangor, 50:21; 5, Avary Lamont, Searsmont, and Walter Lamont, Searsmont, 51:29; 6, Andrew Holt, Orono, and Bob Bonnett, Deer Isle, 52:50; 7, Greg Shute, Alna, and Kyle Shute, Alna, 52:50; 8, Chris Introne, Orono, and Bruce Weik, Freedom, 53:27; 9, Brandon Terra and Terry Wescott, 55:44; 10, Dan Perry, Orono, and Chris Dalton, Bangor, 56:36; 11, D.W. Smith, Lamoine, and Bill DeSisto, Orono, 56:44; and 12, Mary Hartt, Dixmont, and Ethan Vienneau, Milford, 59:36.

Kayak — 1, Ludwig, Houlton, 42:03; 2, Linehan, Westport Island, 42:17; 3, Andrew Cooper, 47:09; 4, Matthew Levin, Warren, 47:19; 5, Dan Baumert, Levant, 49:50; 6, Ben Fuller, Cushing, 49:52; 7, Emmanual Ross, Orono, 50:09; 8, Glenn Montgomery, Belfast, 52:45; and 9, Matt Pryzynski, Bangor, 1:02:49.

Kayak Short — 1, Dan Kelley, Bucksport, 47:43; 2, Dick Hanson, Orrington, 49:14; 3, Brian Foley, Orono, 49:28; 4, John Carter, Surry, 49:46; 5, Larry Merrill, Orrington, 51:48; 6, Chapin Lamont, Searsmont, 54:37; 7, Chad Montminy, Waldo, 57:59: 8, Gabor Deare, Eddington, 1:03:29; and 9, A. Roy Curtis, Belfast, 1:03:29.

Kayak Women — 1, Leslie Gregory, Swanville, 51:58; and 2, Jessica Pyzynski, Bangor, 1:06:29.

Open Canoe One Person — 1, Barry Dana, Solon, 46:39; 2, Bob Martin, East Holden, 49;37; and 3, Chad Meyers, Camden, 53:55.

Open Canoe One-Person Recreational — 1, Jon Moore, Kensington, N.H., 56:17; 2, Bob Winslow, Belfast, 57:56; 3, Paul Arthur, Appleton, 59:29; 4, Peter Hastings, Bar Harbor, 1:05:59; and 5, Tom Moriarty, Milford, 1:20:42.

Open Canoe One Woman — 1, Lynn Flaccus, Alna, 1:02:03; and 2, Stacy Linehan, Westport Island, 1:05:45.

Open Canoe Two-Person Mixed Recreational — 1, Ander Thebaud, Mount Desert Island, and Chip Loring, Old Town, 47:58; 2, Bronwen Pierson, Bucksport, and Greg Dorr, Bangor, 49:50; 3, Abbey Verrier and Angus Deighan, 51:04; 4, Caitlin Cross, Morrill, and Dale Cross, Morrill, 51:14; 5, Becca Austin, Brunswick, and Devin Farkus, Brunswick, 53:24; 6, Ashley Rosborough, Bar Harbor, and Mark Rosborough, Ellsworth, 53:26; 7, Erin Herbig, Belfast, and Josh Povec, Belfast, 55:41; 8, Alexandra Martin, Rockport, and Todd Martin, Rockport, 56:49; 9, Dina Cassidy, Bangor, and David Cassidy, Bangor, 1:01:43; and 10, Leah Trommer, Northport, and Jeff Butler, Knox, 1:03:27.

Open Canoe Two Men — 1, Dick Kelley, Brewer, and Brian Kelley, Brewer, 46:50.

Open Canoe Two-Person Mixed — 1, Dan Littlefield, Waldo, and Adelene Hills, Belmont, 48:34.

Open Canoe Two-Person Recreational Medium — 1, Dan Wagner, Belfast, and Aaron Cross, Morrill, 45:01; 2, Brian Battista, Parsonsfield, and John Bragdon, Denmark, 47:53; 3, Jeremy McCormick, Jackson, and Logan Feeney, Browdoinham, 49:30; 4, Jason Cross, Hampden, and Dan Flammini, Patten, 50:06; 5, Michael Sproul, Brunswick, and Paul Robinson, Orono, 51:32; 6, Dan Merrill, Stockton Springs, and Al Beeson, Bucksport, 52:29; 7, Jeff Wahlstrom, Bangor, and Tim Pease, Hampden, 52:46; 8, Colin McGovern, Orr’s Island, and Adam Chase, South Portland, 53:10; 9, Roger Brothers, Brunswick, and Karl Koehler, Brunswick, 53:13; 10, David Butler, Windham, and Doug Butler, Windham, 55:22; and 11, Dave Preston, Union, and Adam Way, Belfast, 58:19.

Open Canoe Two-Person Recreational Short — 1, Brad Krog, Bowdoin, and Dawn Krog, Bowdoin, 50:41; 2, Ian Wilson, Winslow, and Joshua Poulin, Westbrook, 51:53; and 3, Dan Cassidy, Bangor, and Tom Cassidy, 52:12.

Open Canoe Two Women — 1, Tiffany Bates, Portland, and Lisa Bates, Belfast, 55:24; 2, Fiona Babbitt, Orono, and Laurie Stearns, Brunswick, 55:47; 3, Katie Hyman, Saco, and Kit Hamley, Bozeman, Mont., 57:03; 4, Leslie Winchester, Bangor, and Krystal Mudgett, Glenburn, 57:11; 5, Laurie Hamilton, Orono, and Tammy Kelley, Lamoine, 58:08; 6, Leah Kramer Haymann, Wiscasset, and Emma Carlson, Wiscasset, 1:06:24; and 7, Jen Joy, Portland, and Dani Fazio, Portland, 1:20:08.

Weekend Warrior — 1, Justin Varney, Belfast, and Evan Hutchins, Swanville, 51:24; 2, Leif Weaver, Brooks, and Scott Giroux, Searsport, 51:45; 3, Brian Wagner, Lisbon, and Nick Keraris, Lisbon Falls, 54:00; 4, John Dillenbeck, South China, and Jake Fleming, Belfast, 54:06; 5, Kevin Coombs, Belfast, Chris Grotton, Camden, 54:15; 6, Ronald Macleod, Appleton, and Keith Maynard, Belfast, 55:51; 7, Adam Williams, Wiscasset, and Sandy Bandhu, Wiscasset, 58:59; 8, Tyler Dunham, Lincolnville, and Seth Brown, Lincolnville, 1:00:12; 9, Elizabeth Morrell, Glen, N.H., and Franklin Jacoby, Columbia, 1:01:34; 10, Levi Miller, Belfast, and Trevey Davis, Hope, 1:06:42; and 11, Aaron Fox, Old Orchard Beach, and Hester Kohl, Belfast, 1:16:34.

To view all photos from the 2011 and 2010 events, click on the links below.

Village NetMedia Regional Editor/Sports Director Ken Waltz can be reached at 207-594-4401 or by e-mail at kwaltz@villagesoup.com.