19th Annual Jack Barker Memorial Canoe Race


BUCKHANNON — On your mark, get set… paddle! On Sunday, May 16, a total of 23 entries hit the water to compete in the 19th Annual Jack Barker Memorial Canoe Race.

Participants began at the Wood St. boat ramp located at the Buckhannon River Walk and had to round a buoy underneath the bridge in Tennerton, then return to the starting point—approximately two miles up and two miles back. The competition consisted of five different categories: kayak/women, kayak/men, C2 standard, C2 stock, and stand-up paddler (SUP). The C2 standard and C2 stock represent two-person canoes.

The best time of the day was achieved by 16-year-old Corbin Peters from Beckley, West Virginia with an impressive time of 33:49. Peters told The Record Delta he competes frequently but his father, Gregg Peters, usually beats him. Although Gregg and his partner Amber Rawson did not beat Corbin on Sunday, they did finish first place in the C2 standard division with a time of 39:17 and third in the race overall.

The second-best time of the day was achieved by Robert Barbor, of Buckhannon, with a time of 38:01. The fourth best time was captured by P.J. Dawson from Hurricane, West Virginia with a time of 40:50. Concluding the top five best times were Julie and Thomas Samples, also from Hurricane, with a time of 41:51. Adam Barker, son of the late Jack Barker whom the race is named after, and his wife Stephanie Barker of Buckhannon had the sixth best time with 44:29. The couple finished third in their C2 standard division.

Finishing first in the women’s kayak division was Julie Marsich from Pennsylvania with a time of 52:54. Michelle Marcum from Huntington finished second with a time of 56:30, Kerri Keyser-Napier from South Point, Ohio finished third with a time of 57:01, and Summer Lacascio from Huntington finished fourth with a time of 1:16:21. 

Following are the results from the men’s kayak division from first to last: Corbin Peters, Beckley - 33:49; Robert Barbor, Buckhannon - 38:01; P.J. Dawson, Hurricane - 40:50; Jimbo Navy, Huntington - 49:26; Vince McElwain, Worthington - 53:45; Alan Stephens, Buckhannon - 1:00:04; John Weber, Buckhannon - 1:13:20; and Graham Scott, Buckhannon - 1:11:29.

The results of the C2 standard division from first to last are as follows: Gregg Peters of Beckley and Amber Rawson of Oil City, PA - 39:17; Julie and Thomas Samples, Hurricane - 41:51; Adam and Stephanie Barker, Buckhannon - 44:29, and Allen and Merrily Taylor, Buckeye - 45:28.

Rachel Weber from Buckhannon and her father, George Garton from Jane Lew finished first place in the C2 stock division with a time of 1:12:59.

The SUP results are as follows from first to last: Evan Young, Hurricane - 49:25; Gideon Casto, Charleston - 1:10:42; Jason Rogers, Charleston - 1:11:28; Ben Culler, Charleroi, PA - 1:11:30; Shelby Williams, Buckhannon - 1:15:36, and Kristen Lemaster, Proctorville, OH - 1:16:21.

Competitors seemed relieved to see the finish line, although they all appeared to thoroughly enjoy the race. There were two extremely tight races and all competitors had smiles on their faces when they crossed the finish line. Several individuals waited along the river and some even followed the racers in their vehicles to capture the race from beginning to end.

A shorter child/adult Sprint Race also took place following the main event. The results from it are as follows: Tom and Will Samples, Hurricane - 16:20; Corbin Peters, Beckley - 20:05; and Alex Marsich, Charleroi, PA - 30:05.

Jack Barker passed away in 1999 and was an avid competitor in the sport of canoe racing. Jack found a love for this unique sport back in the 70s and began competing nationally. He actually received a national championship title throughout his canoe racing career. According to Jack’s wife and current organizer of the event, Mary Helen Barker, this race originated through the West Virginia Strawberry Festival by Upshur County resident, Don Henderson. While Jack was still alive, Henderson decided to give up the event and asked if Jack would take over. Following Jack’s death, a fellow racer and doctor in Charleston, Stafford Warren petitioned the WVSF to change the name in memory of Jack Barker and behold, the Jack Barker Memorial Canoe Race. Mary Helen, along with her son, Adam, and daughter, Meredith, continue to organize the event in memory of their beloved husband and father.

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