2015 Green Race men’s co-champion Dane Jackson finishes Saturday’s race strong. Photo by Regina Nicolardi. (See more of Nicolardi’s photos from the race here.)
Adriene Levknecht: How did your time feel?
20 QUOTES FOR 20 YEARS
Story interviews by Joe Potoczak
Video interviews by Scott McCleskey
“Last year it snowed. This year we got some juice.” — Race organizer, Jason Hale, announcing the conditions. The level read 10 inches on the stick gauge, though there was debate it felt higher and the gauge reading may be skewed from recent silt deposits.
“Dig deep, your gonna need that sweep stroke.” — Hale, prepping racers for their inevitable exhausted lines at Gorilla.
“I usually cry, and that’s alright.” — Another thought from the ever-quotable Hale, getting emotional talking about what it means to come home to the Green on the first Saturday of each November. “If you like intimacy, this is the place to be.”
“There is going to be a roar like you first timers have never heard before.” — Hale’s closer for the Green Race rookies, of what to expect from the crowd as they near the most spectacular section of the course. The group of 164 racers let out a war cry and beat the drum of their kayaks before descending into the gorge for the starting line.
“It never gets easier. It really starts bothering me about two weeks before the race at home in Colorado.” — Six-time Green Race champion Tommy Hilleke, describing the nerves that you just can’t shake no matter how many times you have raced. (Hear his pre-race thoughts here.)
“It’s like Christmas.” — OC-1 racer Alex Vargas states of his excitement for race day. “It has all of your favorite aspects of paddling, and all of your friends are here from around the world pushing you on.”
“A twitch of the hips can decide if you win or lose.” — Insight from a boy hiking the Pulliam Creek trail to spectate the Green Race for his first time.
“We are going to miss the fast guys, but that’s okay the carnage isn’t until later.” — Colorful commentary from a man standing in the slow-moving conga line descending the steep gorge to river level.
Geoff Calhoun: Did you go fast (as predicted)?
“Thanks ladies, personal best right there.” — Jason Hale, with a grin after greeting the time keepers at the bottom of Rapid Transit by crashing into the finish line rock.
“I guess I’ll see how this goes.” — Nick Troutman at the finish recounting to his fellow racers the moment he entered Gorilla nearly side by side with Dakota Rogers.
“You guys got to see this. Dudes are getting worked.” — Spectator watching as the safety crew at the Speed Trap grapples kayakers in distress from the outflow of Gorilla.
“I’m not sure if those are good cheers or bad cheers.” — Racer John Chalfant standing below Powerslide trying to get a gauge on the audience’s reaction upstream.
“I was not going to do my second run, but I couldn’t leave the river like that. So, I decided to fire up another one.” — 15-year-old Sage Donnelly describing her personal fortitude to hike up for a short boat run following a swim out of her long boat over Rapid Transit, at her first Green Race.
K-1 women’s short-boat runner-up Sage Donnelly: How do you feel after your first Green Race?
“This river has a way of keeping you humble.” — Veteran racer Chris Gragtmans on overcoming a few practice run obstacles which shook his confidence going into the 2015 race. Gragtmans finished sixth overall.
“I also popped out my shoulder, but only a little bit.” — Matthias Weger of Italy describing his race run in a hospital gown at the award ceremony, which also included a broken nose, and paddle blade.
Matthias Weger: You traveled all the way from Italy to spank the Monkey?
“It’s great having the crowd all just over top of you, cheering you on as you are coming around the notch. You have it in slalom, but not like that. It’s intense.” — U.S. Olympian, and rookie Green Racer, Richard Powell describing his experience in the Narrows on race day.
Ricky Powell: So, did you ‘Spank the Monkey?’
“I made a mistake at Go Left and went right at the slot. If I didn’t make that mistake I think I could have shaved another four seconds.” — Dane Jackson feeling Mike Dawson’s record of 4:10 was within his grasp.
Dane Jackson: Were you scared?
Pat Keller: Who took it today?
“This run was the best of myself. I have no complaints. It was my year.” — France’s Eric Deguil, on finally claiming the win alongside Dane Jackson on his seventh trip to the race. Deguil also won the men’s shortboat division.
Eric Deguil: Do you think you won?
“The Green Race is the best thing going for the sport. But it isn’t quite where I want it yet, there is still more work to do.” — Organizer John Grace on where the event stacks up in the sport.
“The Green Race has kept the core of the sport. So much gets lost in other big events, and here it’s just about coming out and posting your best time. It’s about everyone coming out and doing it, and you can’t place a value on that. You feel like you are a part of something bigger.” — 2015 Green Racer, inaugural 1996 racer, and designer for Liquidlogic kayaks, Shane Benedict.