HAHIRA — Twice the paddlers this year participated in the recent second annual WWALS Boomerang Paddle Race into Florida and back to Georgia. That’s two dozen paddlers and about 50 people at the State Line Boat Ramp on the Withlacoochee River.
“Paddlers from 3 to 69 years old included five parent-child tandems, and three solo children,” Boomerang mastermind Bobby McKenzie said in a news release. “All were led by overall winner and first male paddler Russell McBride of Quitman in a solo kayak, and first female paddler Jennifer James of Waldo, Fla., on a stand up paddle board.”
Category winners were Monica McKenzie, sit-down paddle board; Eliza McKenzie, solo female kayak; Tom and Beatriz Potter, tandem; Lauretta and Mikayla Stephenson, female tandem; and Alan and Alyssa Stephenson, mixed tandem, all of Valdosta. Anthony and Kaiden Heath of Adel came in as first male tandem. Conn and Trudy Cole of Barwick were in the first and only canoe. Except for the canoe and the two paddle boards, all paddlers were in kayaks.
“Thanks for your welcome to Florida, Commissioner Beth Burnam,” Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman said. “We only had one paddler from Florida this time, Jennifer James from Alachua County, but we hope Hamilton, Madison and Suwannee counties especially will send some for Boomerang 2020.”
Also receiving orange tumblers with the Boomerang logo was Alexis Stewart of Valdosta State University and VSU CORE as first four-miler. Bret Miller of Barney and NWXpeditions got a tumbler as first vendor or sponsor.
Ethan McKenzie came from farthest away, Manchester, Tenn., and Logan and Chris are also from there. Logan McKenzie was youngest at age 7, with honorable mentions Zavier 5 and Evan 3, and Tom Potter oldest.
Becky Garber of Fitzgerald came in last, closely following Cindy Leighton of Ocilla.
“Our next paddle race is the Eighth Annual BIG Little River Paddle Race, April 25, at Reed Bingham State Park, between Adel and Moultrie,” said BLRPR mastermind Bret Wagenhorst.
According to Boomerang 2019 volunteer record-keepers Dan Phillips and Shirley Kokidko, 24 people paddled in 19 boats. Eleven paddlers did the full six-mile round trip. Seven paddlers did the four-mile round trip, and eight paddlers did two miles.
Only the Tennessee McKenzies came from outside WWALS Watersheds, from the Duck River.