With the sun shining and the water level registering at a respectable 9 inches, the conditions could not have been better for the 172 paddlers competing at the 23rd Green River Narrows Race. As the deafening roars from the hordes of excited spectators echoed throughout the western North Carolina gorge, those in attendance were treated to another spectacular event, highlighted by tight racing and another long-standing record shattered.
Though three-time champion Eric Deguil was not in attendance to defend his title, the men’s long-boat category was still as competitive as ever with second to sixth place separated by only one second. For Dane Jackson, this year was his chance for redemption. After a disappointing, crash-laden race in 2017, Jackson’s performance this weekend was nothing short of dominant. In the long-boat race, Jackson rode roughshod over the field on his way to victory. Besides setting a new personal-best, his time of 4 minutes, 10.2 seconds was a full eight seconds faster than second-place finisher Pat Keller’s time of 4:18.2. Finishing 0.2 seconds behind Keller was Holt McWhirt at 4:18.4, followed by Isaac Levinson (4:19).
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The icing on the cake for Jackson was his victory in the short-boat race. Not only was his time of 4:26 enough for an overall top-20 finish, it also broke the previous short-boat record time of 4:30 set in 2012 by Mike Dawson. Levinson finished second at 4:36, followed by third-place finisher Brad McMillan at 4:47.
In the women’s long-boat race, Adriene Levknecht continued her record-breaking winning streak, claiming her record tenth career win. On her way to victory, The “Queen of the Green” shattered the women’s race record she set in 2016 with a time of 4:31.3 and finishing 22nd overall.
Outside of the competition, there was some excitement in the crowds when an older gentleman slipped on the rocks by Gorilla and appeared to break his leg. Luckily, the expert EMTs on hand were able to evacuate him safely with help carrying the man up the trail from some good Samaritans.
With the additional of this year’s Green Race Awards Festival, where racers and spectators assembled to celebrate, watch the day’s highlights and eagerly await the final unveiling of of the race results, the 23rd iteration Green Race once again proved why this is one of the best events of the year on the whitewater calendar. From the excitement on the water to all the hard work and passion of the organizers and volunteers, it is no wonder why this event has continued to shine for nearly a quarter of a century.
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