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The high-speed waters of 2017 were missing from the Marge Cline Whitewater Course in Yorkville on Saturday, in time for the fifth annual Illinois Whitewater Festival.
The annual competition saw paddlers in kayaks and canoes make their way through a series of gates, color-coded to signify if they had to be approached forward, or by paddling back upriver.
Waters in the Fox River were considerably lower than they were in 2017, as last year’s competition came on the heels of significant rainfall that flooded the river and turned the course into rushing rapids.
Competitors came from all over on Saturday, including from central Wisconsin.
Lodi, Wisconsin, native Dale Fanney, who has competed previously on the slalom course in Yorkville, said, “It’s great, it’s fun. It’s not easy.”
“Where the gates are placed is pretty tricky, especially in this [canoe]. It’s a lot easier in a kayak.” Fanney joked.
Plainfield resident Stacy Sparlin, who has been paddling for about seven years – since the course opened – said her first run on Saturday was better than in 2017, but that she wasn’t worried about competing.
“I’m just out here for fun, so my goal is not necessarily to race for speed, but don’t hit a gate, and go through every gate,” Sparlin said.