The race was not to the swift on the Willamette River on Saturday morning.
A solitary rubber duck had a good 15-second lead entering the V-shaped boom that funneled the 68,308 competitors to the finish line of the 23rd Great Rotary Duck Race.
But, as the blas fowl dawdled along the boom's south wall, its more mainstream competitors floated past to victory.
The real winners at the annual event, however, were five local child abuse prevention agencies: Birth To Three, Center for Community Counseling, Direction Service, Family Relief Nursery and Women space. They will divide more than $340,000 in proceeds from the sale of 68,308 $5 tickets.
Each duck in the race had been banded earlier this week with a number, so prizes could be awarded to purchasers of tickets tied to the first 20 ducks to cross the finish line. That made for some impassioned spectators among hundreds who watched from the Peter DeFazio Bike Bridge near the finish line.
"I see my duck! I see my duck!" shouted Phil Moses as the first clump of bright yellow flotsam emerged around a bend to the east. "I only have four ducks in my name, but I can see them out front!"
When his 8-year-old daughter, Isabelle, appeared to take him seriously, Moses took a more realistic tack.
"Things could change before the finish line," he warned. "The rapids do all kinds of things to the ducks."
Nearby, little Beck Marshall was deep into the spirit of things at age 3 1/2 .
"Go, ducks!" he shouted, peering through the bridge railing and jumping up and down. "Go! Go!"
Several hundred yards downstream, a race official threw both arms in the air, like a football referee signaling a touchdown, as the first winning duck reached its destination.
Though this was his first time at the event, 9-year-old Gabe Garbonden had a seasoned view of what distinguishes a Duck Race winner.
"It just has to be on top, so it can get out first," he said, alluding to the race's start, when a crane dropped a load of the yellow toys into the river at the Autzen footbridge. An hour later, race chairman and "Papa Duck" Gary Maxwell expressed delight that this year's event raised the second-highest total ever, despite the poor economy.
Maxwell, a member of Eugene's Mid-Valley Rotary Club, stepped up to lead the 2010 race even though he spends only part of each year here. The owner of a California-based scrap foam import-export business is the son of two Rotarians, so he got involved with the local club after building a home along the Mc Kenzie River.
Maxwell credits this year's 4,000-ticket bump in sales in part to organizers' efforts to harness the Internet. He said he worked with his husband, Michael Truelove-Maxwell, to redesign the Rotary Duck Race website to allow online ticket purchases.
Race organizers also produced a posted a YouTube video depicting the event and the cause it benefits. And Duck Race organizers created an e-mail version of the letter-writing approach used by perennial top-selling Rotarian Burnell Ambrose.
The Southtowne Rotary Club member this year matched his previous sales record of 175 books of 25 tickets, largely by sending a written personal appeal to everyone he knows.
"We took his letter and made it to where people could copy and paste it into an e-mail they send to everyone in their (e-mail) address books," Maxwell said.
2010 Rotary Duck Race Prize Winners
2011 Hyundai Sonata - Erv Kincaid
Nordic 5-Seat Spa - Thwing & Thwing Attorneys
Sapphire & Diamond Necklace - Nicole Sauron
$3,000 Jerry's Shopping Spree - Peggy Manis
$2,000 Safeway Gift Card - Mark Bassett
$1,500 Oldfield's' Mitshubishi 60-inch TV - Sue Phillips
$1,500 Soft Horizons Fibre Shopping Spree - Bernice Hohan
$1,200 Red Otter Massage/Spa Package - Tammie McKenzie
$1,000 Ten Benjamins for Dinner Package - Pam Fiske
$1,000 Chipotle Family Dining Package - Don Elder
$1,000 Central Oregon Getaway - Jack Waterhouse
$1,000 Digital Laser Image Package - Dave Koester
$1,000 Les Schwab Gift Certificate - Mile Daniels
$1,000 Shilo Inn Scrip - B. Higgins
$1,000 Yachats Vacation Package - Lisa Hodges
$1,000 Best Buy Gift Certificate - Landgreen & Associates
$1,000 Bi-Mart Gift Certificate - Inge Tarantola
$1,000 Fred Meyer Gift Certificate - Donna Settelmeyer
$1,000 Gray's Garden Center Gift Certificate - Jeff Curl
$1,000 Valley River Center Gift Certificate - Jarl Berg and Janine Zimmer Berg