Annual Paddle for the Bay event will raise funds for Chesapeake Bay Foundation

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Motivated adults and teens will lug paddleboards, kayaks and outrigger canoes into the water tomorrow morning at Sarah Constant Beach Park in Norfolk. And in a unified start, they will begin paddling as fast as possible.

Chesapeake Bay Foundation, a non-profit charitable organization that has planted oyster reefs and created pollution barriers to protect the bay, is hosting its 19th annual Paddle for the Bay event from 9 a.m. to noon. The organization expects about 40 participants for the 3 and 6-mile races. Those interested can register tomorrow at the site and pay $35 to race.

Outreach Coordinator Tanner Council, who helped organize the event, said the activity makes people more invested in the waters.

“As a CBF event, most events are geared towards cleaning the bay,” Council said. “This one may be a little different. It’s very important – people are not going to work and restore something they don’t love. And they can’t love it unless they know it.”

The 3-mile race, or “fun paddle,” lasts about one hour while the 6-mile race requires more endurance and ties up within about three hours. Once the races wind down around noon, the group will have a picnic and the foundation will award the fastest participants from various boat categories, such as kayaks, canoes and stand-up paddleboards.

Though many people drive past the water often, they don’t have a personal connection to it, Council said. Paddlers who participate in the race end up supporting restoration, he said.

“It’s important to promote that connection,” Council said. “Paddlers are some of our greatest advocates for that reason, because they use it and love it.”

The Mid-Atlantic Paddlers Association (MAPA) partners with the foundation for the event. MAPA is a non-profit organization that promotes competitive canoe and kayak paddle sports in the Mid-Atlantic region. Race-organizer and MAPA racer Tim Jones has attended the paddle races since they first began and paddled in many of them as well.

“It’s a good cause,” Jones said in a phone interview. “It’s a nice way to get a little exercise. We just appreciate what they do, and try to support them as best we can and I hope everybody else does, too.”

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