A pair of paddlers nearly flip their canoe at Six Mile Falls during the 55th running of the Kenduskeag Stream Canoe Race in Bangor on Saturday, April 16, 2022. Credit: Troy R. Bennett / BDN

Warm weather is moving into Maine this week, and that welcome development should help bring out paddlers and fans alike for the 56th Kenduskeag Stream Canoe Race.

The excitement and challenge of the competition, and the promise of mild temperatures, had already attracted 562 racers in 290 boats as of Monday afternoon, according to race director Debbie Gendreau of the Bangor Parks and Recreation Department.

There aren’t any big changes this year for the 16 1/2-mile race from Kenduskeag to downtown Bangor. Here’s what you need to know.

When is the race?

The starting time for the event, at the bridge in Kenduskeag, is 10 a.m. on Saturday. The timing takes into consideration the tides in the Penobscot River and lower Kenduskeag Stream to allow safe passage of paddlers under bridges near the finish line.

Can I still sign up?

Early registration has ended, but there is plenty of time to reserve a spot. The entry fee through Thursday is $60 per paddler and can be done online or by visiting the Bangor Parks and Rec office at 647 Main St. from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Note that new online users must register for an account to access the race registration page. A registration form can be completed and presented at the office.

Racers also may sign up on Friday, but that can only be done at the office and the registration fee increases to $75 per person. If procrastination or late-developing plans are your thing, you can still pay the $75 before 9:30 a.m. at the Kenduskeag Union Church near the starting line on Saturday morning (cash or check only).

Bangor Parks and Rec encourages paddlers to pick up their race bibs and shirts at their office before 4:30 p.m. on Friday, if possible. They’ll also be available from 8:30-9:30 a.m. on race day at the Kenduskeag Union Church.

If you’re new to the race, or even if you haven’t paddled it in recent years, it makes good sense to review the race rules on the Bangor Parks and Rec website. Remember, it’s a race and not a pleasure trip. If paddlers are not making an effort to get downstream with purpose, race officials will end their race prematurely.

How’s the water level looking this year?

One of the key concerns with the Kenduskeag race is the water level on the stream. As of Tuesday morning, the flow of 929 cubic feet per second at Six Mile Falls was slightly below the average of 1,010 cfs for the date, according to data provided by the U.S. Geological Survey.

With no rain in sight and the snow almost completely melted away, paddlers probably should expect there will be a few “bony” spots on the stream and that negotiating areas such as Six Mile Falls will require maneuvering around rocks to avoid damaging boats or taking an unwanted swim in the frigid waters of the stream.

There are three race portages, including an optional pull-out at Six Mile Falls. However, paddlers are required to exit the stream at both Flour Mill and Maxfield Dam, both located along Valley Avenue in Bangor.

The warming tent and the awards presentations have been moved from their previous location at Broad St. Park to an area not far away behind the Sea Dog Brewing Co.

Can I watch the race online?

Fans who want to follow some of the spills and chills from the comfort of their own home can go to the Bangor Daily News website, which will livestream a portion of the race from the most famous “River Vulture” spot, Six Mile Falls.

Who won last year?

The defending overall race champion is kayaker Trevor MacLean of Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. He claimed his 16th Kenduskeag race title last year with a time of 2 hours, 9 minutes, 1 second. MacLean is expected to be back in an attempt to defend his crown.

Some of the other 2022 divisional winners included, Open: Brady Burke, Jack Burke, Eve Dana, Ashton Mabee, J.R. Mabee and Justin Wardwell, 2:16:23; C-2 Recreation: Bem Galipeau and Damon Galipeau, 2:29:44; K-1 Short: Hank Thorburn, 2:33:50; Century: Bill Anderson and Alan Paradise, 2:35:38; and C-2 Mixed Recreation: Chip Cochrane and Lani Love, 2:38:20.

Pete Warner

Pete graduated from Bangor High School in 1980 and earned a B.S. in Journalism (Advertising) from the University of Maine in 1986. He grew up fishing at his family's camp on Sebago Lake but didn't take...