A mild winter with less than normal snowfall, and little subsequent spring run off, made the first canoe/kayak race of the 2012 season more a trek down an obstacle-strewn course than a whitewater cruise to the finish.

That was the scenario that 190 paddlers in 111 craft faced March 31 during the 33rd annual St. George River Race, which started in Searsmont and finished in Appleton.

Fred Ludwig of Houlton, a multi-time winner of the event, finished first in his kayak in 47 minutes and 29 seconds. The fastest two-person canoe time was turned in by Christopher Introne and Dan Perry of Orono.

The race is the first of two early-season canoe/kayak events sponsored by the Waldo County YMCA.

The St. George course started at the St. George Bridge in Searsmont Village. There were three miles of dead water, one mile of rapids and two miles of dead water and curves with one Class III drop. The race held Class II – III rapids — plus or minus depending on the water level.

And this year’s water level was lower than usual, which exposed a number of boulders in the river. Those obstacles proved formidable for many paddlers and certainly slowed their progress down the six-mile course.

At one point, Chris Audet, one of the fore runners on the course, sat in his kayak and joked with spectators near the Robbins Mill Bridge that if they lived close enough, would they be kind enough to hook up their hoses and help fill the river with water. That is how low the water ran.

Canoes being stuck on or behind rocks in the middle of the river was the norm. That often forced paddlers out of their craft and onto the obstacle to free their canoe.

Air temperatures were in the low 40s and water temperatures just above freezing.

YMCA director Dale Cross, who also participates in the event, said this year’s St. George race had a “great turnout. It was a nice day to paddle.” He said the lower-than-usual water levels “provided a unique challenge for the paddlers.”

He said although the overall paddler times were slower due to the low water levels, “no one got hurt” and the community came out to support the event, including a large number of high school and college students, as well as junior/senior family participants.

Next, the YMCA will host the 39th annual Passagassawakeag River Race on Saturday, April 7, at 11 a.m. at the Littlefield Farm on the Savage Road in Waldo. The cost is $20 per paddler.

The course starts at the Littlefield Farm. The first mile is flatwater with many curves. The course passes under a cement bridge to another mile of flat water followed by a short stretch of Class II rapids, then a two-mile stretch of flat water to the Rolerson’s bridge, then Class I, II and III whitewater for a mile and a half, leading to a flatwater stretch to the finish.

The ACA Northeast Canoe & Kayak Collegiate Championships will be held on the Passagassawakeag River. This downriver event will bring schools from across Maine and New England together for a weekend of fun, camaraderie, and racing. No experience is necessary, although the more experience definitely increases a school’s chances of winning a medal.

The individual results from the St. George race were:

Century Rec (two person, combined ages of more than 100 years, recreation boat) — 1, Rick O’Donald, Newburgh, and Paul Brown, Belfast, 56:55; 2, Ton Cronkite, Monson, and Maber Cronkite, Etna, 57:19; 3, Dan Merrill, Stockton Springs, and Al Beeson, Bucksport, 1:00:29; 4, Bob Miller, Harmony, and Tom Moriarty, Milford, 1:02:35; 5, Mike Belliveau, Old Town, and Terry Wescott, Thorndike, 1:04:17; 6, Doug Introne, Orono, and Edgar Lamb, Orono, 1:06:53; and 7, Robert Lopez-Anido, Orono, and Chris Mares, Orono, 1:08:30.

Clydesdale (two person, combined weight of more than 425 pounds) — 1, Mark Risinger, Newburgh, and Elijah Hughes Bangor, 1:07:03.

College (recreation craft only) — 1, Alex Introne, Orono, and Eliot Lamb, Orono, 1:00:57.

High School (two high school students, recreational boat) — 1, Christopher Introne, Orono, and Dan Perry, Orono, 56:39; 2, Ben Koehler, Orono, and Schuyler Collett, Orono, 58:04; 3, Isaac Avabodjis, Orono, and Calvin Hamilton, Orono, 59:02; 4, Mitchell Bartlett, Weston, and Kenneth Winiarski, Forest Twp, 1:02:47; 5, Joseph Desisto, Orono, and Laurie Hamilton, Orono, 1:03:34; 6, Chelsea Winiarski, Forest Twp, and Philip Farley, Brookton, 1:04:38; 7, Katie Craighill, Sewanee, Tenn., and Ursa Beckford, Clifton, 1:09:20; 8, Arthur Russell, Brookton, and Chet Knights, Danforth, 1:21:15; 9, Paola Idrono, Yonkers, N.Y., and Marlo Stein, Newton, Mass., 1:25:59; and 10, Duncan Hanrahan, Portland, and Julia Dornbusch, Needham, Mass., 1:28:27.

OC2Jr/Sr 12 and younger (open canoe recreation, one adult, one child age 12 and younger) — 1, Ryan Linehan, Westport Island, and Sawyer Linehan, Westport Island, 1:00:44; 2, Ashton Mabee, Bangor, and J.R. Mabee, Bangor, 1:01:34; 3, Nolan Mabee, Bangor, and Justin Wardwell, Hampden, 1:03:21; 4, JD Burke, Newburgh, and Jack Burke, Newburgh, 1:05:41; 5, James, Robbins Searsmont, and James Robbins II, Searsmont, 1:09:01; 6, Weber Roberts, Hope, and Caellen Roberts, Hope, 1:18:07; 7, Michael Bigos, Auburn, and Harrison Bigos-Lowe, Auburn, 1:20:55; and 8, John Picone, Bangor, and JoJo Picone, Bangor, 1:29:26.

OC2 Jr/Sr 13-16 (open canoe recreation, one adult, one child age 13-16) — 1, Ethan Vienneau, Milford, and Dave Conley, Weston, 58:58; 2, Eric Taylor, Dedham, and Peter Taylor, Dedham, 1:02:48; 3, Isaac McKillen-Godfried, Orono, and Bruce Weik, Freedom, 1:03:23; 4, Don Cross, Morrill, and Andrew Cross, Morrill, 1:04:29; 5, Jiawei Zou, Orono, and Dan Baumert, 1:05:03; and 6, Aaron Winslow, Belmont, and Jackson Winslow, Belmont, 1:06:42.

Kayak (kayaks 13 feet 5 inches and longer) — 1, Ludwig, Houlton, 47:29; 2, Ray Wirth, Belfast, 50:25; 3, Jeff Sands, Bangor, 54:13; 4, Ben Fuller, Cushing, 59:13; 5, Glenn Montgomery, Belfast, 1:01:40; and 6, Keith Holland, Old Town, 1:09:39.

Kayak (two person) — 1, Brian Rahill, Orono, and Nathan Rahill, Orono,58:35; and 2, Mark Berry, Princeton, and Asa Berry, Princeton, 1:01:54.

Kayak WW (weekend warriors, beginners and intermediates) — 1, Morgan Clifford, Brooks, 1:10:41; and 2, Matt Pyzynski, Bangor, 1:15:38.

Kayak Short  (kayaks up to 13-4) — 1, Hank Thorborn, Harpswell, 55:02; 2, Dan Kelley, Bucksport, 55:11; 3, Ben Randall, Sabattus, 55:58; 4, Brian Foley, Orono, 57:57; 5, Larry Merrill, Orrington, 58:13; 6, John Carter, Surry, 58:23; 7, William Hegstrom, Brooks, 1:01:24; 8, Steven Harrington, Knox, 1:02:42; 10, Nathan Harrington, Knox, 1:02:50; 11, Chad Montminy, Waldo, 1:03:46; and 12, Chris Piik, St. George, 1:11:11.

Kayak Women (any length craft) — 1, Leslie Gregory, Swanville, 1:02:20; and 2, Jessica Pyzynski, Bangor, 1:17:36.

OC1 (open canoe racing, one person) — 1, Bob Martin, Dedham, 55:25; and 2, D.W. Smith, Lamoine, 1:02:05.

OC1R (open canoe recreation, one person) — 1, Bill Deighan, Newburgh, 1:00:05; 2, Brian Battista, Parsonsfield, 1:01:58; 3, Bob Winslow, Belfast, 1:05:53; 4, Paul Arthur, Appleton, 1:06:28; 5, Peter Hastings, Bar Harbor, 1:08:18; 6, Mike Bridges, Appleton, 1:11:15; and 7, Willard Morgan, Alna, 1:27:48.

OC1W (open canoe racing or recreation, one woman) — 1, Tammy Kelley, Lamoine, 1:05:41; and 2, Lynne Flacus, Alna, 1:07:52.

OC2M (open canoe racing, two person, 16-6 to 18-6) — 1, Dick Kelley, Brewer, and Brian Kelley, Brewer, 54:40; and 2, Justin Kinney, Cumberland, and Adam Jandreau, Cumberland, 59:00.

OC2Mix (open canoe mixed, one male, one female in race length canoe) — 1, Katie Owen, Orono, and Jeff Owen, Orono, 53:38; 2, Mike Kelley, Carmel, and Britney Kelley, Carmel, 1:03:29; and 3, Sandy Bandhu, Portland, and Dominique Edgerly, Wiscasset, 1:07:33.

OC2MixRec (open canoe recreation, one male, one female) — 1, Barry Dana, Solon, and Lori Dana, Solon, 54:03; 2, Chip Loring, Old Town, and Ander Thibaud, Mount Desert, 54:13; 3, Matt Dingle, Carmel, and Sarah Dingle, Carmel, 54:57; 4, Laurie Stearns, Brunswick, and Michael Sproul, Brunswick, 55:58; 5, Gregg Dorr, Bangor, and Bronwen Pierson, Bucskport, 56:58; 6, Dale Cross, Morrill, and Caitlin Cross, Morrill, 58:22; 7, Katie Hessler, Ellsworth, and Bob Hessler, Ellsworth, 58:34; 8, Bob Mitchell, Buxton, and Sandra Mitchell, Buxton, 1:00:59; 9, Ashley Rosborough, Bar Harbor, and Mark Rosborough, Ellsworth, 1:02:23; 10, Mary Hartt, Dixmont, and Zach Murray, Orono, 1:04:09; 11, Don Sholes, Searsport, and Kimberly Merrifield, Belmont, 1:04:52; and 12, Ryan Cummings, Waltham, Mass., and Jenni Cook, Waltham, Mass., 1:13:20.

OC2RM (open canoe recreational medium, two person, canoes 16-6 to 18-6) — 1, Aaron Cross, Morrill, and Cliff Littlefield, Morrill, 53:42; 2, Gary Martin, and Matt Morin, Orrington, 54:12; 3, Dan Wagner and Jake Feener, Lincolnville, 55:36; 4, Christopher Deane, Canaan, and John Goulet, Bradford, 56:08; 5, Logan Feeney, Bowdoinham, and Jeremy McCormick, Jackson, 56:20; 6, Jeff Wahlstrom, Bangor, and Brad Coffey, Bangor, 58:29; 7, Josh Povec, Camden, and Chad Meyers, Camden, 59:51; 8, Clayton Cole, Corinth, and Joe Fortin, Corinth, 1:00:18; 9, Tim Pease, Hampden, and Kevin Gendreau, Hampden, 1:02:48; 10, David Butler, Windham, and Doug Bulter, Windham, 1:04:54; and 11, Doug Fox, Unity, and John Fox, 1:05:48.

OC2RS (open canoe recreation short, two person, canoes shorter than 16-6) — 1, Brad Krog, Bowdoin, and Dawn Krog, Bowdoin, 58:32; 2, Greg Shute, Alna, and Kyle Shute, Alna, 59:47; 3, Andrew Marshall, Montville, and John Dietter, North Haven, 1:05:15; 4, Trevey Davis, Hope, and Andrew Debethune, St. Albans, 1:10:26; and 5, Jeremy Clough, Union, and Rob Stenger, Washington, 1:16:50.

OC2W (open canoe, two women, any length canoe) — 1, Kailey Schmidt, Orono, and Samantha Nadeau, Orono, 1:05:07; 2, Lisa Bates, Belfast, and Tiffany Bates, Portland, 1:09:16; 3, Kat Harling, Long Island, N.Y., and Shelby Anderson, Bedford, N.H., 1:12:35; and 4, Leah Trommer, Northport, and Meghan Kennedy, Liberty, 1:16:34.

OC2WW (open canoe, weekend warriors, two person for beginners and intermediates) — 1, Justin Varney, Northport, and Peter Moro, Portland, 1:00:42; 2, Kevin Coombs, Belfast, and Ryan Lister, Waldo, 1:01:17; 3, Tom Abello, Edgecomb, and Peter Abello, Freedom, 1:05:17; 4, Stephan Apse Portland Brent Adler Portland 1:06:23; 5, Simon Willig, Wiscasset, and Charlie Fear, Brunswick, 1:10:14; 6, Mark Guido, Montville, and Blaine Guido, Montville, 1:12:24; and 7, Bryce Koukopoulos, Wiscasset, and Katie Lerer, Dallas, Tex., 1:23:02.

Courier Publications Sports Director Ken Waltz can be reached at 207-594-4401 or by email at kwaltz@villagesoup.com.