More than 500 people are expected to participate in Sunday's Mid-American Canoe and Kayak Race on the Fox River, an increase from last year's race.
As of Thursday, 510 people have registered for the race, now in its 53rd year. Last year, 425 people participated in the race.
"It's great to get people out to the Fox River," said Jeff Long, public relations manager for the Fox Valley Park District, which sponsors the race. "That's been our mission, to get more people out to the Fox River."
Long also oversees the race. Two race lengths will be featured – a 10-mile race from St. Charles and a 6-mile race from Batavia – both finishing at the Illinois Avenue bridge in Aurora. Long said the two race lengths allow for paddlers of all abilities to participate.
In the Batavia race, about 200 people are signed up for the race this year, compared to 140 people last year, he said.
"A lot of people aren't serious paddlers," Long said. "They just want to be part of the festivities."
People can register Sunday for the race. The St. Charles leg of the race begins at 9 a.m., from Mount St. Mary Park on Route 31, and the Batavia portion starts at 10:30 a.m. from the VFW at 645 S. River St. in Batavia, just south of downtown. Boats will be launched in heats of 10 every four minutes from both start areas. Free shuttle buses will run continuously along the route beginning at 7:30 a.m.
Paddlers are advised to arrive at their start areas at least one hour before launch time. Four shuttle buses will be running from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. When the race ends, the action will continue with an outdoor party and awards ceremony at the finish area in McCullough Park at 150 W. Illinois Ave., Aurora.
Each registered racer will receive a commemorative race T-shirt and goodie bag after the race. For information, visit www.foxvalleyparkdistrict.org.