OK 'yackers, time to put your paddling skills to work! Our Meetup group is going support an endurance swimming event - the 2010 Search for Monongy 1.2 & 2.4-Mile Open Water Swim. It's put on by the U.S. Masters Swimmers (USMS) Allegheny Mountain Masters chapter here in Pittsburgh. The course runs between Heinz Field and the Clemente Bridge on the Allegheny River. We will be part of the safety crew, monitoring the swimmers, keeping them from going off-course and calling in help if one of them has a problem.
No special skills or gear are required. All you need is your kayak, PFD, paddle, whistle, and basic paddling skills. We will meet at Heinz Quay, the same place as we launched for Paddle at the Point. Please arrive at 9:00 AM. This will give us time to stage our gear, and then meet with the safety coordinator for instructions. Swimmers start warming up at 10:00, and the first swimmers are off at 11:00. The last swimmers will be off the water by 1:30.
***UPDATE*** To show their appreciation for our help, the Allegheny Mountain Masters will have bagels & cream cheese for breakfast, lunch (maybe pizza), and a raffle for two $50 gift cards, one for REI and one for Best Buy. There will be free parking in the nearest lot by Heinz Field. I also confirmed with the safety coordinator that beginner kayakers are welcome - he has never paddled before, but he plans to be on the water too. We will be the eyes and ears for the rescue crews as each of us maintains a position around the course.
We're meeting at Heinz Quay (the ramp in front of Heinz Field) same place we put in for Paddle at the Point. Same as before, we can drop off our boats and gear at the curb, park in the lot, and then carry/drag/roll our kayaks down the grassy slope to the waterfront, and then past the Fred Rogers Memorial to the launch. Someone will be there to watch your gear and help transport it.
I'm an endurance runner. I really appreciate all of the selfless volunteers that come out to support the trail races that I compete in. So I understand how much the swimmers will appreciate YOU if you can help out for this event.
By the way, what is "Monongy"? Legend has it that Monongy, the man-fish lives in the river. There are records that go as far back as the French and Indian War that describe encounters between British soldiers and strange aquatic creatures. The local Indian tribes referred to this creature as "Monongy". There was even a Monongy craze in the early 1930's through the late 1950's. Sightings occurred on a weekly basis and the police department created a task force whose sole purpose was to investigate sightings of the creature. No evidence was ever produced to lend credence to the claims until May 12, 2003 when a privately owned fishing vessel was the first to take photos of the creature. The photos were available on line for a short time until they were inexplicably taken down. Speculation persists that the government has procured the photographs and are covering up the existence of Monongy. Crypto zoologists from around the world still frequent the Monongahela every year to catch a glimpse of the elusive water beast.
This Meetup listing will be updated as more details come available. I hope our group has a good turnout, and I'm sure we'll have a great time. Hope to see many of you there!