Paddle and Portage Brings Exercise and Entertainment Downtown
by Laura Kocum
on Wednesday, July 15th, 2015 at 7:46am.
This weekend at the Dane County Farmer's Market, watch for hundreds of racers, in costume, as they carry watercraft from one lake to another. Or, if you're brave enough, sign up and join the fun at the 36th annual Paddle and Portage, sponsored by Isthmus.
With Lake Mendota sitting to the north, and Lake Monona to the south, you couldn't find a better course for such an event. Paddlers race through one lake, carry their watercraft across downtown Madison, and then race through the other. Costumed contestants, parent/child combinations and hard core racers all make their way to Paddle and Portage. The spectacle of so many costumed racers is worth the trip downtown, as is the live music, food, craft beers and vendors at Olin Park.
This year, the event has merged with the Midwest Stand Up Paddle Festival to include even more paddling options. The events kick off with SUP clinics (even SUP Yoga), live music by Mal-O-Dua, and bib pick up at Olin Park on Friday night. Saturday, bib pick up and canoe drop off begins at 7 a.m. at James Madison Park.
The race begins at 9 a.m. Participants will paddle through a 1.5 mile course on Lake Mendota, then complete a 1 mile portage through downtown Madison and the Dane County Farmer's Market. Then, a 1 mile course through Lake Monona will bring participants to the finish line at Olin Park. The rest of the afternoon will include live music, SUP clinics, and free food for racers. A costume contest adds to the fun.
The combination of paddling, racing, costumes and foot traffic through the Farmer's Market make Paddle and Portage a perfect example of the fun to be had in Madison.