How it works/ the DesPlaines Marathon


A behind the scenes look on what it takes to make it happen… by Sigrid Pilgrim

For 56 years now, the Des Plaines River Canoe and Kayak Marathon in Illinois has attracted many hundreds of canoes and kayaks for the 18.5 mile stretch from Oak Springs Road in Libertyville to Dam #2 in Prospect Heights. Founded originally by Ralph Frese to introduce his boy scout troop to the beauty of the Des Plaines River, the event has become a “must participate” for many paddlers from all around the country, if for no other reason than to get the coveted embroidered patch or for the first place winners, the unique voyageur statue.

My husband Alan is co-chair of this event that happens only because a small, very dedicated group of volunteers for years has given many hours of their time to make sure no detail of the event is overlooked. As the sometimes willing sounding board, listening to Alan voice frustration about this, that, or the other aspect of the event that still hasn’t been nailed down, confirmed, reconfirmed, settled, or figured out, sometimes just a few days before race date, I sat down with him the other day with pen and paper and ask him “Tell me, what does it take to put on the Marathon?”

So here is a summary of what it will take again to have 500 or more paddlers participate in the 57th Annual Des Plaines Canoe and Kayak Marathon to be held May 18, 2014:

The Organizing Committee consisting of two co-chairs, secretary/treasurer, registrar, safety, start line coordinators, marketing and outreach members meet once a month to coordinate all that follows:

  • Contract with firm that takes care of electronic registration (which then requires umpteen emails sent by the co-chairs on alternating days to remind tandem paddlers that each needs to sign the waiver!)

  • Coordination with the Lake County Forest Preserve District (start line) for traffic control and parking, plus making sure the upper section of the river is clear of debris for the race

  • Confirmation with the Forest Preserve District of Cook County, the major sponsor, (finish line) to provide for traffic control, parking, shuttle buses, port-a-potties, entertainment and police, and also ensuring the lower section of the river is clear of debris for the race

  • Coordinating with Lake County for “sweep” paddlers from Start Line to Lake Cook Road, as well as providing a “sweep” paddler on the Cook County portion of the race from Lake Cook Road to the Finish line

  • Coordinating on course safety with 27 RACES, a communication team to be stationed on bridges to ensure safety of paddlers and pass on paddling times

  • Food vendors at end of race are researched and contracted for

  • Contracting with the official Timer

  • Contract is signed for tents to shelter race headquarters for tracking race times, displays, t-shirt sales and any organization wanting to promote their activities

  • Renewing contracts for storage locker rentals at the Start Line and Finish Line for buoys, race result boards, water coolers, left-over t-shirts, and lots more no one has room for in his garage

  • Our design/artwork chair provides a unique design each year for the annual postcard, patch and t-shirt

  • Ordering patches, trophies, medals, t-shirts

And that is just the start, because without the actual people being part of it, none of that would be needed. So here’s a list of volunteers that annually give of their time and talent:

  • Event logo design for promo cards, t-shirts and patch by professional graphic designer (free)

  • Race registrar assigning start-times prior to race day

  • Saturday event set-up activities

  • Check-in registrars

  • Signage postings

  • Parking and shuttle coordinators

  • Buoys placers

  • Race starter

  • Info station staff

  • Safety boaters

  • Timers

  • Race time postings on timing boards

  • Patch, T-shirt distribution and sales

  • Webmaster

  • Mailing of trophies/medals/t-shirts not picked up on race day

And this is what your registration fees cover: Rental of storage lockers, Supplies and Signage for Start and Finish Lines; Website; RACES – Communication Group; Boat numbers; Trophies, Medals, Patches, T-shirts; Printing and mailing of promo materials; Insurance; Volunteer lunches; Generator and Gas; Tents; T-shirts given to volunteers and other key personnel as a “thank-you”; Port-a-Potties for the Start Line.

So that’s the summary of what it takes to put on the Des Plaines Canoe and Kayak Marathon; I may even have left out a few “needs to get done” too. I hope that all paddlers reading this will reward the many volunteers’ efforts by participating in next year’s event, May 18, 2014, to say


For more information on the event and a list of this year’s finish times, please go to


posted Mar 21, 2013, 12:48 PM by Tom Lindblade   [ updated Mar 21, 2013, 12:55 PM ]

Michael Cline Memorial

Whitewater Kayak Slalom Race

Yorkville, Illinois

October 14, 2013

Columbus Day

Open to all high school students

Cost is $10.00/kayaker

Come join us for a fun day on the Fox River!

  • This is a chance to introduce whitewater kayak racing to your students just like in the Olympics.

  • Whitewater kayaks & equipment will be provided or you may bring your own.

  • Prizes and awards to be given to the top finishers and overall school.

Contact George Hallenbeck- Race Chairperson


Phone 630-357-3633

Untitled Post

posted Dec 15, 2012, 9:27 AM by Tom Lindblade

DRAFT DNR Support Letter to Legislators

posted May 16, 2012, 9:26 PM by Tom Lindblade

DRAFT Constituent Letter to Legislators
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DRAFT Constituent Letter to Legislators


Dear Senator / Representative X,


Please support the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR.) As a constituent, I can tell you it is an important resource to our state and to me personally (add personal story here if desired.)


Over the past decade, IDNR's budget has been cut in half.  Because of these cuts, the only way that IDNR has been able to keep state parks open and continue vital programs that protect our water supply, public safety, and wildlife has been to rely on a number of dedicated funds. Many of these funds were intended to support specific programs or functions which were sacrificed for the purpose of supporting core operations. The balances in these funds have been depleted. Core operations will cease without a plan towards sustainability.


Illinois citizens need a strong Department of Natural Resources.   In cities and small towns, in suburbs and rural areas, we count on IDNR to protect our water supply, ensure public safety and provide disaster assistance, safeguard our natural resources, and provide quality outdoor experiences that are important to local economies and quality of life.

IPC Banquet

posted Oct 17, 2011, 11:33 PM by Tom Lindblade   [ updated Nov 18, 2011, 12:13 AM ]


Wally Werderich and Nick Josefik to Speak at Fall Banquet.  Sigrid Pilgrim to Receive Lifetime Achievement Award

Wally and Nick  will speak on "Marathon Adventure Racing" at the IPC Fall Banquet, November 19th 6:30-10:00pm. At Mullen's Bar and Grill 380 Warrenvile Rd, Lisle.  Cost of Buffet dinner $27.50. (soft drinks additional)  Reservatons are limited. 

Check for $27.50 per person and preference of Chicken vs. Veggie Lasagna must be received by November 10.  Send to Jack Snarr,  2316 Prospect Ave , Evanston IL 60201
6:30-7:00 Cash Bar
7:00-8:00 Dinner

8:00-8:15 Elections,  Lifetime Achievement Award
Racing Awards
8:30-9:30 Program

Pumpkin Paddle - CANCELED

posted Sep 28, 2011, 8:07 PM by Tom Lindblade   [ updated Oct 11, 2011, 9:35 PM by Rich Comejo ]

posted May 8, 2011, 6:09 PM by Tom Lindblade   [ updated Sep 28, 2011, 7:37 PM ]

See below

Free Seminar - risk management and liability in the outdoors

posted Apr 21, 2011, 11:58 AM by Tom Lindblade   [ updated Oct 11, 2011, 9:37 PM by Rich Comejo ]

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