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Race for the Prize

The Great Russian River Race Returns


  • Rick Tang

The Amgen tour isn't the only race in town this week. The Great Russian River Race offers contestants the chance to kayak through idyllic Healdsburg dressed in anything from crocks and cammo to face paint and false teeth. Hosted by Russian Riverkeeper, River's Edge and Sonoma County Regional Parks, this annual tradition encourages wild dress-up; last year's paddlers sported neon wigs, Viking horns and the full hair-and-makeup getup of Pennywise the Clown.

The May 12 event is broken into two competitions, a 15-mile Bridge-to-Bridge Race for advanced boaters and a five-mile Rio Lindo Race. Both end at the Healdsburg Memorial Bridge, where live music, food and picnic blankets will entertain until 5pm.

A portion of race proceeds benefit Clean Campus Clean Creeks, a program that educates teens on watershed issues like urban runoff pollution, and Sonoma County Parks to pay for the installation of the Healdsburg Veterans Memorial Dam.

With winning categories for men, women, families, standup paddle boarders and "Best Dressed"—and the option to showcase your inner granola or child-eating ghoul—there's truly something for everyone. Cheer at the finish line of the Great Russian River Race on Saturday, May 12, at Memorial Beach. 13841 Healdsburg Ave., Healdsburg. $6 parking fee at beach. 707.433.1958.

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