There was fun both in the water and out on Saturday during the second annual Chalk Banks Challenge held at the Lumber River Chalk Banks access near Wagram.
Dozens entered the challenge’s three water-bound competitions, including canoe and kayak races, and highlighted by the homemade raft race, as popular for those rafts that sunk as it was for those that made it to the finish line.
“It was a gorgeous day,” said Whit Gibson, one of the event’s organizers.
Gibson handed out a number of awards to the homemade rafts before they were put into the water, including awards for “quickest to sink” and “most unsafe,” which was won by a raft constructed by area fireman to include a car battery to power its flashing emergency lights.
“Any raft that will go on the water with a battery in it should win most unsafe,” said Gibson before handing over the award.
Awarded “best looking raft” was the “Noodle Nerds” team of Jennings and Bob Dean along with Doug and Connor Bert, who constructed a raft with swimming pool noodles as its centerpiece.
First-time attendee Joshua Adkins of Fayetteville, despite the dubious construction of his single-person raft which drew some odd looks from attendees, said that he “hoped it would float”.
Adkins’ raft, however, failed to make it past the put-in area.
“It was just too heavy,” he said, before adding that he “definitely plans to return next year.”
Finishing in first place in the raft competition, which took place over a two-mile portion of the river, was fifth grader Gabe Williams of Laurinburg Boy Scout Troop 447 in “Marge the Yellow Barge.”
“Marge” was designed and built by locals Roylin Hammond and David Adams, but would not support their weight when they tested it earlier in the week.
The two recruited Williams and the rest was history, as the single-person raft outpaced the competition.
As evidence of the challenge’s growing status in the state, attendees came from all around to this, the second edition of the Chalk Banks Challenge.
Lucia Torrealba of Charlotte, who once lived in the Wagram area, traveled to the event because “she heard it was a lot of fun.”
What Torrealba heard was confirmed on Saturday, she noted as she watched a presentation from Lathan Leviner of “Big Smiley’s Reptiles.”
In addition to the reptile exhibit, there were a several food and crafts vendors at the event, as well as live music and a series of demonstrations for the area canoe club.
Finishing first overall in the other competitions were River McDuffie and her father Williams, who completed the 7-mile river course in their tandem canoe in 58 minutes and 42 seconds.
Winning the solo canoe race was Shawn Turlington, while Mike Thomas won the recreational kayak race with a time of 1-hour 1-minute and 56 seconds.
Finishing first in the two-person kayak competition were Lyndsey and Chris Gibson, while Cary Popour finished first in the larger, USCA kayak race.
For the first time this year, said competition coordinator Mickey Turlington, an overland running element was added to the challenge to create a triathlon.
“We wanted to take advantage of the trails created last year at the (Lumber River State Park),” said Turlington.
Winning the biathlon contests were Lyndsey Gibson (tandem kayak),Ross Peele (recreational kayak), Chris and Amy Rotting (team biathlon), Shawn Turlington (solo-canoe) and River McDuffie (tandem canoe .