Photos and text by Chris Gragtmans
The Green Race season is here! In the Southeast whitewater scene, there is no more exciting time than this. We are just under two weeks out, and paddlers from around the planet are showing up to test their skills and fitness against the Green River and its talented local boaters. Here is a quick overview of what is in store for the next two weeks:
As you can see, the Russell Fork is first up, and is a great gauge to see where everyone’s fitness and paddling is. Once that is done, it’s back to the Green on Sunday for more race laps.
Levels are right around 7.5 inches, and all of the lines are running fast and smooth, courtesy of a recent wood removal crew (thanks guys!). As you can see from the gallery, the heavy-hitters are here and the gloves are off. Two international personalities to watch are Mike Dawson from New Zealand (fresh off his Sickline podium finish) and Vavra Hradilek from the Czech Republic (coming off his Olympic slalom silver medal). Both went to the London Olympics, and Dawson wants to defend his 2010 title against last year’s winner, Isaac Levinson. Andrew Holcombe and Pat Keller are also two locals to watch. Each owns two titles and both are hungry for a third. Aside from the battle for the title are those who are racing for the first time and those whose only wish is to beat their best buddy in long-standing rivalries. Regardless of what each paddler’s goal is, standing in line with boats proudly raised on race morning redlines everyone’s heart rate.
One other interesting development is the chatter about multi-class races. Dane Jackson is claiming four separate class race runs, Pat is going for the “switch-hitter,” it’s the Stage 6 finale of the AWP Whitewater World Series, and there are rumors about a duo class being included for the first time ever. Only time will tell what happens, but it will be entertaining!
Here are a few quotes from the front lines:
“Fear is flowing.” — Jeff Joyce
“Spent the day sharing around the pole position with the giants. Nothing quite like fall leaves, race season. This’ll be a year for the record books. Pinch me.” — Pat Keller
“The kayaking community is a global family that meets regularly in the most beautiful places on Earth to live life the way it is meant to be lived.” — Jason Beakes
“High noon, first Saturday in November … like death and taxes.” — Every Green River Local
Click HERE for the Green Race Registration Page. See you at the starting line next Saturday! — CG