2020 will introduce a slight change to the start procedure. Posting up, pre-race ceremonies, and all the other build up that makes the South Main Street overpass such an iconic start in canoe racing will all remain the same. The change in 2020 will be in the cannon.
After confusion in 2019 due to an air horn near the back of the race, the Athol Lion's Club Rat Race Committee will be making the start signal 100% unmistakable. The new cannon will be placed in a new location so there will be no sight lines from the river. The 2020 cannon is owned by Mike Flye, a certified Cannonier who has used the cannon in reenactments at Gettysburg and Creek Battlefields. The 1990-built replica of an 1841 Mountain Howitzer was designed to send shots through fort walls, so paddlers will have no doubts about when the 2020 Rat Race has begun!
As a response to paddler feedback following the 2019 race, the Lion's Club will also be placing race officials on both banks of the Miller's River before the South Main Street Bridge. These "Spotters" will be filming and relaying any false start numbers to the finish line officials where they will be eliminated from the race. So, paddlers hold those posts and spectators cover those ears in 2020 and wait for the Athol Lion's Club to bring the "BOOM."