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New group to keep Red Mo race flowing

by on February 22, 2018 8:59 AM

On March 31, more than 100 canoes and kayaks will be floating down the Moshannon Creek for the 51st Red Mo Downriver Race, and this year, a new group is leading the way.

First-time race director Aaron Roos has been a participant since 1996, when he was just a junior in high school. He didn’t even have a canoe the first time he raced, but he enjoyed the thrill of the rushing water and beauty of the surrounding area and it changed his life. He has pursued paddling adventures ever since, and now he is glad to give back.

“It was such a fun challenge to run the river that day, and it has led me to pursue water sport activities throughout my life," said Roos. "Now, it is time for the next challenge — to give back and put on this race with a group of like-minded people. To keep it going for people to enjoy the river.”

The 7.5-mile race was started by the Penn State Outing Club as a way for students and the community to get together and enjoy the outdoor adventure activities the area has to offer, said Roos. For the past few decades, the race was organized by Tussey Mountain Outfitters in Bellefonte.
After the 50th running of the race, it was time for the torch to be passed to a new group.

Enter the Friends of the Moshannon Creek — a group of local water sport enthusiasts looking to continue the tradition. Roos is treasurer of the group.

“Really, we all just love paddling and being on the water, and want to promote what this region has to offer in that area,” said Roos.

Organizing the race he has loved for so long has been a new challenge.

“There is a lot that goes into it. We have 28 different classes of vessels that need to be timed, so it is a lot of planning,” said Roos. “But it will be worth it to be a bigger part of this great event.”

Roos said he is a little disappointed he will not get to participate this year due to his new duties, but he is glad to help others get out and experience this great event.

“This course passes through a beautiful section of the area and includes some nice whitewater. It is nothing that is too crazy, so it is challenging enough to be fun and exciting, but also assessable to just about all participants,” said Ross. “While I think that participants should have some experience paddling on running water, the course is open to all skill levels.”

Prizes are awarded to top male and female participants in the many different age and experience classes and different vessel classes. Canoes, one- and two-person kayaks and even standup paddle boards are part of the many different boats that people use to navigate the river. New this year is a College Cup trophy, given to the fastest participants who are college students.

Roos is grateful for the many community groups and businesses that offer their support to the race. Visit Clearfield County made a final donation that Roos said “really put his mind at ease” in putting the race together.

Roos said paddlers should dress appropriately for a potential fall into the cold water, because the course has some difficult spots. Even an experienced river man like himself fell out into the cold running water a few races ago.

“It was a shock ... cold. Took my breath away,” said Roos. He also said it’s important that participants wear warm non-cotton clothing that dries quickly and light sneakers instead of heavy boots.

In one particular spot of the course, spectators gather around a tricky whitewater pass watching as boaters navigate through.

“They are watching, I think to see who makes it through and kind of hoping to see some people fall in. Either way it is great; people are cheering and it is a lot of fun,” said Roos.

The good times continue at the after-race banquet at St. Severin Church's social hall in Drifting. Awards and draw prizes are given out at the banquet, where a low-cost meal is served. This year, all participants will be in a drawing to win a canoe.

“It is a fun time afterward. Otto’s Brewery brings up some Red Mo and Black Mo, named after the river, and gives out samples. Just a great atmosphere,” said Roos.

Registration is open until the race starts for $30, but those who register before Sunday, March 11, will pay only $25. Visit to register.



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