Lamprey River Canoe Race

There seems to be no shortage of canoes or kayaks here in New Hampshire.  Naturally this is due to all the wonderful lakes, ponds, rivers and streams in the Granite State and the people who enjoy trekking their way up or down them.  Whether for fishing, exercise, or just enjoying the untouched beauty of the New Hampshire countryside, these humble means of transport will get you where you’re going.

There are, however, competitions that pit canoeist against canoeist and kayaker against kayaker throughout the state.  One of the more popular of these is the Lamprey River Canoe Race in Epping, held on the last weekend in April every year.  With competitors numbering near a hundred and spectators more than doubling that, the Lamprey River Canoe Race has become one of Rockingham County’s more highly anticipated waterborne springtime events over the past few years.

The race begins at Mary Blair Park in Epping, NH, just off Route 27 and the finish line lies at the Newmarket Bridge, approximately four miles away.  The race usually takes about an hour and a half to complete, with some of the speedier racers clocking in at less than one hour twenty.  There are several classes, which include men’s single, women’s single and two-person teams.  The goal is simply to have the fastest time in your class.

The events are held rain or shine and it goes without saying that many of the competitors get very wet during their trip down the Lamprey.  There are some rules involved and most revolve around safety.  For example, you must wear a floatation device and your canoe (or kayak, for the singles) must be seaworthy – or at least “riverworthy”.  There are safety officials present and emergency rescue crews are standing by to help anyone who gets in trouble.  The safety crews have people in canoes of their own to be certain no harm comes to the competitors during the race.

If you think you’d like to take part in next year’s Lamprey River Canoe Race, you should get in touch with the Epping Conservation Commission.  Their address is

ECC/Town Hall
157 Main Street
Epping, NH 03042

Then break out those old paddles, find your life vest and have a boatload of fun in the fast-moving waters of the Lamprey River.

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