Dozens rowing 97 miles for the Susquehanna Sojourn

By Matt Porter

June 10, 2013 Updated Jun 10, 2013 at 9:45 PM EDT

Binghamton, NY (WBNG Binghamton) Rowers -- or paddlers as they prefer to be called -- battled rain, mud and some fast moving currents as they made their way through Binghamton on the Susquehanna River.

Each member helped the others lift their 10-foot boats in and out of the water.

It takes teamwork to stay afloat. And paddlers like Martha Lawrenz have something in them that makes even a muddy, rainy day fun.

"I played around with boats when I was a kid, way back," Lawrenz said, "And then I liked canoeing, I had a canoe first."

The retiree came from Bethesda, Md. for her sixth journey along the Susquehanna.

She joined nearly 50 other rowers as part of the Susquehanna Sojourn, a 23-year-old event bringing amateurs and professionals together for a 97-mile journey.

"There's something about seeing a city or a town or even just the landscape from the river," Lawrenz said, "It's totally different."

Lawrenz said the river provides quiet views, but along Binghamton's dams it also can get a little rapid.

"It's exciting," she said, "And sometimes it's a little scary."

The Susquehanna Sojourn is organized by the Headwaters River Trail together with multiple state and private partners.

Organizer Rick Shumaker said the event is not just about a good time, but a chance for people to bond with each other and the water.

"They're making friendships with the other sojourners, and also finding a new identity as co-owners of our water resources," Shumaker said.

Each year the race has a theme, this year is traveling through time.

At some pit stops, paddlers will hear from historians about the history of the towns and waterways through which they travel.

Lawrenz said she enjoys thinking about her trip in that way.

"It's the feeling that you're going back a century or two," she said.

The paddler's journey will continue west to Owego, and then follow the river south until they end in Sugar Run, Pa., with the rest of the sojourners.