First Annual Lower Yough Loop Race

On Saturday, July 15, Mountain Watershed Association, in partnership with the Great Falls Foundation and Wilderness Voyageurs, held the first annual Lower Yough Loop Race in Ohiopyle State Park! 

Under stormy skies, 52 paddlers in kayaks, Shredders, rafts, and inflatable kayaks lined up for a mass start at the Lower Yough put-in, downstream of Ohiopyle Falls. The moment the start was called, the black clouds opened up, dumping sheets of rain onto the racers. 

At Cucumber Rapid, the front of the pack was still tight. It was clearly a fight for first place as the paddlers sliced through the rapid. 

Everyone got through Cucumber (mostly) clean, and battled through the next few rapids. With a final fight through Railroad for first place, Wilderness Voyageurs’ Operations Manager, Ben Scoville, paddled to the finish first with a time of 9:43. 

After getting knocked off her race line by an errant inflatable, Charlotte Szekely made an impressive comeback to win the women’s race! 

The inflatable category was surprisingly competitive, with a double duck duo team speeding to first place ahead of several hard boats, and Ryan Hahn won the Shredder category and the coveted gear bag from Airtight Inflatables. 

We owe a huge thanks to our sponsors and local community, including our volunteers who helped with safety and race registration! Everyone’s participation helped us raise money for the Ohiopyle-Stewart Volunteer Fire Department, who were on call during the race for emergencies. Our other sponsors for the race include: Immersion Research and Airtight Inflatables for the awesome race prizes, Wilderness Voyageurs for the pavilion and beer donation, and Paddlers Pizza for providing post-race pies to all the hungry paddlers! 

MWA had so much fun helping make this community event a reality, and we’re looking forward to the second annual event!