“The Green River Gorge is a savage and hostile place, we strongly recommend you not participate in this event in any manner.”
Despite such dire warnings from the organizers of the Green Race, over 100 participants hurled themselves through the class V Green River Narrows at this year’s competition. Billed as the “Greatest Show in all of Sports,” the 22nd Annual Green Race “Up the Ante” near Saluda, North Carolina, took place this Saturday, Nov. 4 to much cheering, jeering and beer-drinking from over a thousand spectators along the gorge.
2017 Green Race Winners
Eric Deguil and Pat Keller both bested the previous course record with times of 04:05:5 and 04:06:2, respectively, taking first and second place in the men’s Long K1 category for the second year in a row. Dane Jackson placed third at 04:15:7. Deguil also placed first in the men’s Short K1 with a time of 04:30:6. Adriene Levknecht placed first in the women’s Long K1 category for her eighth Green Race win, posting a time of 04:39:8, beating second-place finisher Katie Dean (05:17.9) by 38.1 seconds.
Green Race Water Levels and Flow
The aging Duke Energy dam was broken only a week before race day, leaving water levels at a low 7 inches of natural flow on the gauge. By race day, the dam was working again and the flow had been tweaked with three separate releases to reach a perfect 10.5 inches. Less than two weeks before the race, the river was in high flood at insane levels of 5-6 feet, charging over the river banks in huge chocolate milk-coloured waves in the places where spectators usually gather. Dramatic fluctuations in water levels keep the Green Race challenging for racers, organizers and spectators alike, year after year.
The race course features rapids and drops with names like, “Go Left and Die,” “Scream Machine,” and “Gorilla,” a 30-foot waterfall that has the reputation of eating paddlers alive. Watching the race isn’t easy, either, as spectators must hike 1.2 miles of the Pulliam Creek trail to reach a steep, slippery path down to the river in order to see the action.
The Green Race, Then and Now
In the 22 years since the inaugural Green River Race, the competition has grown from a small event with only 16 participants to one of the most important and exciting events in whitewater racing. The race manages to stay true to its humble roots: the only prize awarded is a piece of stained glass art donated by local paddler Todd Graff. The Green Race has inspired boat designs specifically created to get through the course faster, most notably Dagger’s Green Boat and Liquid Logic’s Stinger. Sponsorship from Oskar Blues Brewery adds to the rowdy atmosphere, as spectators play drinking games during the race and attend two massive parties before and after the big day. This year, high-profile paddlers raised an extra $4,000 USD to benefit American Whitewater and MountainTrue’s Green Riverkeeper program by matching donations and memberships on race day.
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Full race results available here: greenrace.us/?p=644