NORWELL – Any passerby crossing Bridge Street on Sunday morning saw more than the gentle curve of the North River and the occasional boat on the water.
Kayaks, canoes and paddleboards swarmed the landing as 155 runners prepared to set off for the 32nd annual Great River Run, organized by the North and South Rivers Watershed Association.
With spectators cheering from the bridge and a flock of geese watching from the marsh grass, runners set off on the 7.5-mile course to the sound of the horn around 9:15 a.m.
Plymouth’s Joe Lukaszevicz and his team fled in a four-person canoe, quickly disappearing below deck. The team finished third in the race, which ends at Indian Head Road in Hanover.
“It’s a fun race and the people running it are very nice,” said Lukaszevicz.
The race is open to people of all skill levels. Some riders sped up while others enjoyed a more relaxed descent down the river.
Among the local supporters were runners from New York, Connecticut, New Hampshire and Vermont, said Rick Mayfield, chairman of the association’s board of directors.
“It’s amazing to see the number of boats here,” Mayfield said.
David Wiltey of Johnstown, New York stopped just short of Lukaszevicz’s team and took first place. Wiltey said he was very impressed with the volunteers who supported runners at the start and finish lines, as well as the provision of a water point on the course.
NSRWA volunteer and board member Margery Parker said the event helps support the organization’s education programs, which emphasize the importance of conserving local rivers and of the surrounding lands.
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“We want to show (students) how beautiful it is here,” Parker said.
The event raises funds to support the association through entry fees – starting at $55 per boat or board – and local sponsors. The money also supports the association’s work to monitor water quality and protect the natural landscape of the South Shore.
Deb Lenahan, a board member who has worked with the group for 30 years, said the money is also helping the organization remove roadblocks so the herring can run unhindered.
Standing at the loading area in Hanover to greet incoming runners with his grandchildren, Mayfield, from Norwell, said he has lived along the river for years and supports the cause so his grandchildren can enjoy the scenery for years to come.
For more information on the North and South Rivers Watershed Association, visit nsrwa.org.
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To reach Katherine Canniff, email [email protected]