The Green Race 2014 is in the books. Every year there’s a new element that ups the ante. A few numbers in particular stood out at this year’s 19th annual gathering.
165: The record number of participants who left the starting line in one-minute intervals on Saturday afternoon, 20 more than 2013.
6: Maximum inches of snow recorded Saturday morning in nearby Asheville, N.C., which nearly rendered this record field of competitors unable to race. Fortunately, race organizers noted the snowcapped mountaintops turned bare as they sloped into the mysterious gorge of the Green River Narrows. Game On. Organizers did, however, delay the high-noon start one hour to give racers, spectators, and EMS support — who were busy handling other emergencies caused by the early season storm — time to arrive and brave the cold.
30: Miles per hour that winds howled for the spectators hiking in to witness what many paddlers like to call, “the greatest show in all of sports.”
42: Racers who made the dean’s list of the Green Race with sub-five-minute times, a title of accomplishment that the race refers to as, “Class V certified.” Though the field is growing deeper and faster, Mike Dawson’s 2012 record of 4 minutes, 10 seconds remained intact. The record number of entrants coupled with the late start did, however, eliminate the running of the Ironman class, the hyper-competitive category for racers who hike the course upon completion of a longboat run and race it again in a short boat.
4:44: The sub-five-minute time posted by now six-time Green Race women’s champion Adriene Levknecht, which places her within the top 20 overall times.
7: The record number of female competitors who raced on Saturday. Levknecht charged the course Saturday alongside five other kayakers, as well as a lone women’s OC-1 racer, Sabrina Barm, who made history as the first women’s open-boater to attempt (and finish) the Green Race. “It was the greatest, hardest, most intense, most intimidating and most fascinating challenge of my athletic career,” Barm said on her Facebook page.
6: The number of junior racers on the course. There is no class for racers under the age of 18, and event organizers clearly state that the race does not advocate participation by minors. But the skill of these young creek racers could not be denied. Three broke the five-minute mark with Idaho’s Alec Voorhees posting an impressive time of 4:46 and 15-year-old Robert Waldron, the youngest to ever participate in the Green Race, coming in one second behind Voorhees.
1: Second. That’s what this year’s race came down to in the tightest-ever finish. Dane Jackson and Isaac Levinson crashed into the rocks below Rapid Transit in a virtual tie for first. A fourth backup stopwatch determined the victory for Levinson, who overcome injury to get back to the top: “It feels incredible to win it again,” says Levinson, a now two-time champ. (Read about Levinson’s harrowing 2011 Green Race victory.)
23: Members of the river safety crew (not including local fire and rescue volunteers) at this year’s Green Race. “I give those guys an A plus plus,” says race organizer John Grace, who equates safety with success for the event. “Collectively they have about two or three hundred years of river experience between them.”
61: Number of first-time racers. “We support everyone who wants to post a time,” says Grace, who looks forward to the challenge of fighting daylight (and potentially adverse weather like Saturday’s) to allow an expanding list of capable racers time for a race run. “For some it is a bucket-list thing, and we don’t want to take that away from them.”
20: Next year’s big anniversary. When asked what will mark the 2015 milestone, co-organizer Jason Hale provides a simple answer: “Something special will be happening next year and it’s going to be right here on the first Saturday in November.”
— Read more from the Green Race 2014.
— View the complete results from the race.