Thedford – The 3rd Annual Middle Loup River Challenge was held on September 11th with the first two races a collaboration between the Sandhills Journey National Scenic Byway (SJNSB), Sandhills River Trips (Cay and Stephanie Ewoldt, Lincoln), and Ewoldt’s Grocery providing the meal after the race.
The race began 7.5 miles west of Thedford, at the base of the overpass and across from Louie Herbaugh’s gravel pit. The first year, the race had 40 entries while last year COVID stopped some from attending as 27 entered. This year, 51 entries were put into the river at 7:30 a.m.
Last year Sara Kay Carrell from Scott City, Kansas, was the only SUP (stand-up paddleboard) This year she had 6 others competing in that division. She came in 2nd behind Ronda Graff. Their times were 5hr.41.51 and 5.53.35 respectively. The cost was the same for the die-hard racers or those who wanted to enjoy the river at a more leisurely pace, called floaters.
Racers came from Omaha, Lincoln, Grand Island, McCook, Valentine, to name a few places in Nebraska, and Kansas had several as well. Grand Island Native Calvin Hassel, who competed in his homemade canoe smoked all entries, finishing the race in 3.32.59. It was another hour and a half almost before the next racer, in a kayak finished.
Of the 51 river rats, 9 of them entered the Adventure Race. They were put in at a different spot on the river, having to row 16 miles instead of the full 27. They then had to bike over 30 miles, then walk or hike 6.5 miles.
The 2022 Middle Loup River Challenge will be held on September 10, 2022 with an additional date likely for the Adventure Race. For more information or to book your own kayak, canoe, or tanking on the Middle Loup River, contact Sandhills River Trips by calling 308-645-2235.