Boaters race downriver as part of last year's Red Paddle Race, a 4-mile timed race through Lansing. This year's race kicks off 9 a.m. Saturday.
Photo by Ariniko O'Meara
A flotilla of over 100 adventure seekers in canoes and kayaks cruised out of Okemos’ Wonch Park and through downtown Lansing Friday. Their final destination: Grand Haven.

Campus to Coast, an annual boating trek hosted by MSU's Outdoors Club, gives participants 57 hours to complete the 160-mile trek. The fastest boaters accomplished the feat in 36 to 40 hours. Campus to Coast is just one of several Spring events that will take advantage of the Grand River, Michigan’s longest river.

The 17th annual Hugh Heward Challenge hits the river Saturday. The non-competitive canoe trek is inspired by the travels of Heward, an 18th century fur trader. Participants can choose one of three lengths — 13, 25 or 50 miles — on a course that mirrors an April 24, 1790, trip taken by Heward and his crew.

“This is a wonderful event and a great fit for our mission,” said Loretta Crum, president of the Middle Grand River Organization of Watersheds, which runs the event. “Each year, the Hugh Heward Challenge brings attention to the history and beauty of our Grand River."

The event was born in 2000 when Verlen Kruger, a Lansing native who holds the Guinness World Record for most miles paddled in a canoe over a lifetime, was challenged by a friend to recreate Heward's journey. Kruger accepted and invited friends to take the trip with him.

This year’s event ends at Portland’s Thompson Field, where boaters are treated to a hearty chili dinner near the Verlen Kruger Memorial.

Boaters with a thirst for competition can check out the Red Paddle Race, which returns to Lansing May 7. The 4-mile timed race — which has divisions for beginner, intermediate and advanced paddlers — starts on the Red Cedar River under the Kalamazoo Street bridge. The route takes paddlers through Potter Park and the confluence of the Red Cedar and Grand rivers and ends at Lansing City Market.

The Red Paddle Race was created last year when event organizers at Capitol Collective approached River Town Adventures, a canoe and kayak rental service.

"We knew immediately we wanted to be a part of launching an annual canoe race to showcase and celebrate our local waterways and the river trail," said Paul Brogan, owner of River Town Adventures.

Proceeds from the race benefit the Friends of the Lansing Regional Trails.

Those who prefer dry land racing may be interested in Saturday’s Bring on the Spring 5K Run/Walk, a celebration of the season and the warm weather that comes with it.

The race, hosted by Lansing City Market, takes runners/walkers from the market's riverside plaza to Potter Park and back. There is also a Kids' Fun Run jog to Impression 5 Science Center and back, a distance of a half mile. The fastest adult runner will receive a gift basket of products from the market.

In addition to the race, the event features vendors and booths from local health and wellness groups, including Woldumar Nature Center and Friends of the Lansing Regional Trails.

Proceeds from the race benefit the Firecracker Foundation, which supports victims of childhood sexual trauma and their families.

"We want to make sure we do what we can to utilize our space adjacent to the River Trail in a way that benefits the community,” said Audrey Tipper, City Market manager. “This 5K is just one event in our ever-growing calendar of events that do just that.”

Hugh Heward Challenge 2016

7 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday, April 30
$10 recommended donation to participate
Three race distances with launching points in Dimondale, Grand Ledge and Portland; all races end at Thompson Field, Portland

Red Paddle Race

9 a.m. Saturday, May 7
$50 Race starts at the corner of Clippert and Kalamazoo streets and ends at Lansing City Market
325 City Market Drive, Lansing

Lansing City Market's Bring on the Spring 5K

2 p.m. Saturday, April 30
$24.20/$34.75 with T-shirt
Lansing City Market 325 City Market Drive, Lansing

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