AURORA – The annual Mid-American Canoe & Kayak Race is set for Saturday, June 1, but a recently discovered obstacle in the Fox River has caused race officials at the Fox Valley Park District to relocate one of its launch points.

Due to construction on the Island Park pedestrian and railroad bridge that spans the Fox River in Geneva, Mid-Am officials have moved the launch location of the long course from Mt. St. Mary’s Park in St. Charles to the Fabyan Forest Preserve in Geneva. Fabyan Forest Preserve is located at 1925 S. Batavia Ave. (Rte. 31). It’s important to note the boat launch area is on the west side of the river. A detailed map of the site is located on the Mid-Am events page.

“We had some attentive residents who posted concerns on social media, and we’re thankful for that,” says Lynn Piotrowski, facility manager at the FVPD’s Prisco Community Center and 2024 Mid-Am race coordinator. “When we saw the pictures and videos, a member of our Operations team visited the construction site and spoke with workers who said they hadn’t seen a canoeist or kayaker pass through during the time they’ve been working.

“It’s an extremely dangerous area with high, fast-moving water and narrow passageways.”

The modified long course now runs 7.1 miles, joining the original 6-mile option from the Batavia VFW, 645 S. River St. (Rte. 25). Paddlers who previously registered at the St. Charles launch will now start from the Forest Preserve in Geneva. Registration fees and start times remain the same, and paddlers who’ve already registered in St. Charles will be notified on Monday, said Piotrowski. No changes have been made to the Batavia course.

Heats begin at 9 a.m. in Geneva and 10:30 a.m. in Batavia. Divisions for paddlers who require canoe or kayak rental are included, and participants must register online. The registration deadline is 9 a.m. on Wednesday, May 29.

The finish line for both courses is staged just beyond the Illinois Avenue bridge in Aurora, and a post-race lunch celebration will be held at adjacent McCullough Park. A wristband that’s good for lunch is included in the registration fee. Reuland’s Food Service will be onsite preparing a grilled lunch menu featuring several items for purchase. Non-competitors of the race can purchase a $25 ticket that includes lunch in the park and a race t-shirt.

“Spouses and kids who aren’t in the race bring blankets and lawn chairs to relax in the park and enjoy lunch with the participants they came to cheer on,” Piotrowski says. “We’ll also have picnic tables set up, and there are plenty of majestic trees in the park for shade if we get a warm, sunny day!”

Participants urged to use shuttles

Race officials strongly encourage participants with their own canoes or kayaks to unload boats at their respective launches, park at Prisco Center, and take one of two shuttles back to their launch site 90 minutes prior to their heat. Paddlers who rent boats should also park at Prisco, for there is no shuttle service following the race.

Piotrowski said the most common question she receives is an encouraging one, because it comes from prospective first-time participants: “Do we have to be a skilled canoeist or kayaker?”

“And the answer is no, providing you adhere to some basic safety measures,” Piotrowski says. “We have novice paddlers every year, and many got their start on the water right here in the Mid-Am race, which is suited for all experience levels.”

Piotrowski notes that members of the District’s Operations team will be on hand – and in the river – to assist Recreation Division paddlers with portages, of which there will be two from Geneva and one from Batavia.

“We’ll have staff to help you in and out of the river and around the dams,” Piotrowski says.

First race 63 summers ago

The first Mid-Am was held in 1961, a race that featured 41 boats and 82 paddlers. It was the brainchild of local outdoors writer Bob White, and the race’s heyday remains permanently stamped to the 1970s and 80s.

But that’s only from a numbers perspective, says Piotrowski.

“We’re on our third generation of families now, and it’s fascinating to see the tradition being passed down in real time,” Piotrowski says. “We still have spectators, friends and family cheering from the bridges and riverbanks. We see the kids and grandkids holding signs they made. There’s community pride up and down the river.”

The 2024 Mid-Am is sponsored locally by Konen Insurance, Fabulous Fox! Water Trail, Orthodontic Experts, and Artlip and Sons, Inc.

For more information or to register for the 2024 Mid-American Canoe & Kayak Race, visit