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The Riversport Challenge is fun to watch and even better to do



Riversport Challenge
Noon for children, 6 p.m. for adults
Chesapeake Boathouse
725 S. Lincoln

Most Oklahomans would have no clue just a few years ago that the river just south of downtown Oklahoma City would one day be the site of health and prosperity for youth and adults in the state.

Oklahoma City Riversport invites all ages to participate in the Riversport Challenge, a first-of-its-kind, multi-sport race that combines a 5k run and a 500-meter kayak race on the Oklahoma River.

Kelley McGuire, coordinator for the event, said the main purpose was to give Oklahoma City another chance to experience the revitalized waterway.

"What we want to do is gear it to the community and everyday people can enjoy the facility," McGuire said. "There are so many things going on at this facility, and people get exposed to these sports that you didn't grow up with here in Oklahoma."

A special race for children ages 8-18 that combines kayaking, biking and running piqued the interest of Margaret White, a river regular.

She said she thought her nieces and nephews would be perfect for the event and made sure her sister-in-law signed them up for the 10-week training course that started in June.

"It gives them a chance to try a sport that they might not have otherwise," White said. "They got to meet some young ladies who are kayaking on the national team, and they got to see that there are opportunities for schooling and athletics later on in life if it's something that they are interested in."

White's sister-in-law, Inacia, said her kids are natural water bugs, and she did not hesitate to sign them up.

"With the obesity we have in Oklahoma, you always hear about how if we don't do something about our children, then they are not going to live as long as their parents," she said. "Getting them out there and getting them healthy is so important."

Her 10-year-old son, Timothy, who suffers from a heart condition, said being out on the river is especially fun, because he knows it's keeping him healthy.

McGuire said the training experience for children has shown them how to kayak, how to build stamina for racing, nutritional information and has even taught a few kids how to ride a bicycle.

"It's a fun thing and a celebration of these kids completing the 10-week program and learning these different skills and combining them," McGuire said. "Until recently, the river has been just a dried-up hole. We are going to be able to have generations from now on that will have access to rowing and kayaking, and it will just be part of them growing up and their culture."

White said she thinks it's great to see just how far Oklahoma City has come in a short amount of time, and she said she thinks Riversport Challenge is just another way for local residents to see that.

"I don't think most Oklahomans even really know how far we have come in this sport and what a great venue Oklahoma now is for rowing and kayaking," she said. "It's pretty exciting that we are a world-class rowing facility now, and it's an exciting sport. It's fun to watch and even better to participate in." "Adam Kemp

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