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Kayak challenge returns, now ends in South Sioux City

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Kayakers meet the challenge

Bill Harris, of Dickson, Mo., packs up his kayak May 24 after completing last year's 72-mile South Dakota Kayak Challenge. This year's event will end in South Sioux City instead of Sioux City.

SIOUX CITY | The annual South Dakota Kayak Challenge will have a new wrinkle this year. Paddlers will finish the 72-mile Missouri River course in South Sioux City rather than Sioux City.

Kayak Challenge organizer Jarett Bies, of Vermillion, S.D., said the change means the finish line won't be at Bev's On the River, 1110 Larsen Park Road.

"That's a really busy place on a busy weekend," Bies said.

The finish line has been moved to the South Sioux City boat ramp near the Marina Inn Hotel & Conference Center, 385 E. Fourth St., on the Nebraska side of the Missouri River.

"I think it will enhance safety," Bies said.

This is the fifth time in six years that the event has been held. The historic Missouri River flooding in 2011 scotched the ride that year.

The first-ever South Dakota Kayak Challenge was held in 2010, giving 87 participants 36 hours to make it 70 miles downstream to Sioux City. After that year, the time to complete the event was dropped to 30 hours.

The recreational event will begin at 7 a.m. Saturday in Yankton, S.D., and go through 1 p.m. Sunday, although many participants will be done in 10 to 14 hours. The course record was set in 2014 when three people competing in the Open Class churned to a time of 8 hours and 18 minutes. People can compete in a solo, tandem or team class.

There are four checkpoints along the way for people to stretch muscles and eat. They typically will feel the burn in shoulders, hamstrings and glutes.

There are 160 registered participants, which is where the numbers have typically been. Many come from Midwest states, particularly Iowa, South Dakota and Nebraska.

"We've been pleased that participation will hold steady," Bies said.

Katie Miller, of Jefferson, S.D, will take part in 2015 for a third time.

"This event is set up in a way that everyone can do it. You can do the whole thing or just a portion of it if you like," Miller said.

She said it is a great way to see one of the most beautiful rivers in the U.S.

"I am back because not only do I enjoy celebrating the river with a group of people that also likes kayaking or canoeing, but also the personal satisfaction I feel when I have completed a challenge such as this," Miller said.

Bies is encouraging other people using the river to give a wide berth to the paddlers. He said the participants go out of their way to avoid tangling the lines of people fishing and wants that courtesy returned. He said in 2014 a power boater purposely gunned the speed near a kayaker, tipping the team.

Bies pointed out that laws require power boaters to slow their speed when nearing a person who isn't piloting a motorized craft to avoid creating waves.

"A lot of people love the Missouri River. We just want to have everyone with those passions to respect the passions of the paddlers," Bies said. "Give them a break and share the waterway."

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Related to this story

The 2014 South Dakota Kayak Challenge saw several participants break the course record for the 72-mile journey from Yankton, S.D., down the Missouri River to Bev’s on the River in Sioux City.

Even though she got sunburned last year, Tina Fazio plans to return to the Missouri River for the South Dakota Kayak Challenge Saturday. And she vows to finish all 72 miles from Yankton, S.D., to Sioux City.

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