On the second Saturday in Winterlude, I made my way to Dow's Lake, where an event was underway. This view is where the Canal widens out into the lake. The Arboretum, part of the Experimental Farm, is the wooded parkland in the background.
There are options for a treat here if you're skating, including Beavertails, which has huts at various sites in addition to its permanent location. The company, based out of Ottawa, sells fried pastry treats in the shape of a beaver's tail.
Here is the junction in the skateway's path. Going to the left will take you to the end of the skateway at the Hartwell Locks. Going to the right takes you to the north end of Dow's Lake. It was off to the right for me.
There was a crowd up ahead, with a section of the skateway blocked off for races.
It was the second year of the Ice Dragon Boat Festival. The organizers have been doing a summer version of this event for years on end (have a look at last year's event in this post from my writer's blog). Last year was their first year doing so for Winterlude, and I posted about that here. It proved successful, and so it returned again this year.
I was just arriving as the last race of the morning was due to get started, with an hour's break for lunch before afternoon races would get underway. Teams use the same five dragon boats in these heats, which are then turned over to the next set of racers. An apparatus looking rather like skates are attached beneath the boat, and instead of oars, the rowers use sticks that look like they can spike into the ice surface, propelling the boats along. The rules allow that if a boat gets stuck, up to two rowers can get out to give it a push- but they can't get back in again. I chatted with a couple of participants, who had been in races in the morning and would be again in the afternoon. They confirmed that this is harder than the summer version. During the summer races, you're feeling the effort in your core, whereas with this, the effort really plays itself out in your arms.
I just reached the starting line in time to catch the beginning of the race. It didn't take long before all five boats were off, working their way down the surface of the ice. I have more from this event tomorrow.