BY GREG KLEIN
Evelyn Collier remembers her husband’s 10th trip down the Susquehanna River. Sort of. “I went into labor,” she said Monday morning on Otsego Lake, where the 50th General Clinton Canoe Regatta started. “I left here and went to the hospital. My son Todd was born the next day.”
The Clinton has become a family affair for the Colliers since that race in 1988.
“He competes now, too,” Collier said of Todd, who started the A Open Stock Aluminum Endurance race with fellow Cooperstown resident Luke Banner around 6 a.m. Monday. “He went out already.”
Although Todd Collier had an hour head-start on his dad, Steven, he and Banner scratched. Steven Collier went on to complete his 33rd 70-miler, finishing 17th in the T Men’s Under 50 CC Endurance in 9 hours, 45 minutes, 43 seconds with Michael Stringer.
Steven Collier simply doesn’t miss this race. For example, he competed in the 2006 Clinton despite suffering a stroke in January of that year.
“He worked out on a stationary rowing machine,” Evelyn Collier said of her husband, who is among the top 10 in all-time miles. “He got ready on land and he made the race. He hasn’t missed a start since he began.”
Said Steven Collier: “All told, we have three of our five kids in the race this year and two nephews. Our other two kids are pit crew. They say they are considering competing next year.”
Cooperstown resident Erica Collier and her brother John of West Coxsackie finished seventh in the X Mixed CC Endurance.
“Sometimes I wish my dad had taught us golf or tennis,” said Erica, who crossed the finish line with John in 8:56:10. “Actually, right about now, I wish my dad had been a golfer or bowler.”
With paddlers lining Pioneer Street by 5 a.m. and canoes filling Lakefront Park above Otsego Lake not long after, the internationally known race had plenty of local flavor.
Although many visitors from as far away as Canada filled the pro classes, more than half the field for those such as the A Open Stock Aluminum and the G Open endurance races hailed from Otsego and Delaware counties.
“It’s a legendary race. I think that’s part of it,” said Dave Selover, who competed in his first Regatta in the T Men’s Under 50 CC Endurance race with partner Brent Baysinger both of Cooperstown. Selover said that they had been gearing up for the 70-miler for some time.
“I have been aware of it my whole life,” he said. “I’ve always been an outdoor person. I think it’s something we have been working ourselves into. It is a challenge. I hope we will be doing it for years to come.”
At the other end of the spectrum is Team Nisichawauasihk Creek Nation, which showed up with several teams from Manitoba, Canada.
“We drove 38 hours without stopping all night,” said Murray Marchment of Wanipigow, MB, who placed second with Chris Gerwing of Winnipeg in the E Men’s NYMCRA Stock Endurance. “And we had it easy. The other group was 1,200 kilometers north of us. They just got the river unfrozen in time to make it down here.”
Marchment said Monday marked his 10th appearance at the Clinton and while he used to go all over North America for races, he has cut back to only the Clinton.
BY GREG KLEIN
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