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Floating Their Boat

05/12/11
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Sophomore team winners: Jillian Baker, Mike Stepanovic, Sean Cahill, Devon Behrer, Justine Burt, and Assistant to the Vice President for Mission and Ministry Professor Tim Muldoon.

By Melissa Beecher | Chronicle Staff

Published: May 12, 2011

It has been dubbed the “annual adventure in muscular intellectuality” by College of Arts and Sciences Honors Program Director Mark O’Connor — and this year it was back.  

For the glory of the golden oar, 40 students from the A&S Honors Program picked up paddles to compete in the annual 24-mile Run of the Charles, New England's largest canoe and kayak race. Three boats – representing the freshman, sophomore and junior classes – resurrected what had been a two-decades-long hallowed Honors Program tradition.    

“This had always been a staple of the Honors Program, a way to unify the classes with the best motivator – competition,” said Devon Behrer ’13, head of the sophomore boat. “I think there were 75 canoes on the water that day, but we chose to ignore the other 72. It was class against class.”  

Donning golden Superfan t-shirts, the students rowed in teams of two over the course, broken into five legs, scrambling and hauling their vessels over several portages.   

“We were hoping to offer an opportunity for students to create a memory that they would always have with them,” said Lynch School of Education graduate student Katie Wostbrock, graduate resident director in charge of logistics. “When we asked for feedback, students talked first about how physically demanding this event was, but quickly followed with how they met new friends after the shared experience of paddling up the Charles, fighting through the woods and frogger-ing across the streets with the canoes.”  

Said Pathways Program Manager Catherine-Mary Rivera, “For years Professor O’Connor and [Assistant to the Vice President for Mission and Ministry] Tim Muldoon have been telling us what a great tradition this is. Seeing how much camaraderie it built among the Honors House, it really proved the point.     

“But this event couldn’t have been possible without the manpower – faculty and staff volunteers who were able to come in and help bring back a loved tradition.”  

The Office of Residential Life lent support to the event by sponsoring a barbeque after the race and awarding a “golden paddle” to the winning sophomore team.  

“It was a beautiful day and so much fun,” said Behrer. “Students are already planning for next year, and dressing as pirates or Vikings. I hope the Boston College canoes are back for good.”  

Next year, organizers pledge the event will return as so long as the student enthusiasm and spirit endure. They hope to have a senior and faculty boats represented along with a larger barbeque celebration.

See a slideshow of the Run of the Charles on the University Flickr page.