WEISS LAKE, CENTRE, ALABAMA — Professional paddlers, Alabama Legislators, and AL650 volunteers gathered with the Alabama Scenic River Trail board and staff to kick off the 2023 5th edition of the Great Alabama 650 on the evening of September 29. Fifteen competitors successfully checked in to compete and paddle the 650 miles from Weiss Lake down to Ft. Morgan. Race volunteers, crew, staff, and competitors gathered to celebrate Alabama’s waterways and the race’s endurance challenge at a dinner hosted at Jakes on the Lake by the Cherokee County Chamber of Commerce. Senator Andrew Jones and Representative Ginny Shaver presented State of Alabama House of Representatives Resolution (HJR105), commending last year’s winners and recognizing the Alabama Scenic River Trail for promoting water recreation in Alabama. Representative Shaver and 46 other Alabama representatives were responsible for the resolution.

Bobby Johnson Portaging Day 1 | Photo Courtesy of Alabama Scenic River Trail, Inc
Bobby Johnson Portaging Day 1 | Photo Courtesy of Alabama Scenic River Trail, Inc

Race Start: The race started September 30 at 10 AM on Weiss Lake. All 15 competitors made a clean start, and crews successfully met the paddlers nine miles downriver to portage at Weiss Dam. Neely Henry Dam was the first mandatory downtime, and all racers successfully passed through this portage. As of October 2 at 2:30 PM, the current leader was Salli O’Donnell, passing mile marker 270 in Downtown Montgomery. The top four are close together, with the rest of the field stretching out as racers begin to feel the strain. The first cutoff for racers is at Check Point 1: Coosa River Adventures (Mile 232/650) in Downtown Wetumpka. Racers must reach the first checkpoint by Tuesday, October 3, at 8 PM to continue the race.

Racers will have 10 days to finish the race in one of three divisions– male solo, female solo, and two-person team. Participants can use kayaks, canoes, or stand-up paddleboards interchangeably throughout the event. Race staff closely monitor the racers’ progress to share the latest information. Spectators who spot racers can post their pictures under the hashtag #AL650, and up-to-the-minute information is located online at AL650.com. Fans can also see live updates and photos on Facebook and Instagram (@GreatAlabama650).

The Alabama Scenic River Trail (ASRT) uses a network of members and outfitters to create, improve, and promote more than 6,500 miles of river trails. ASRT connects adventurers with opportunities to explore and appreciate Alabama’s great waterways through unique experiences. Working primarily through community partnerships, ASRT promotes safe, fun, and welcoming paddling experiences across the state for people of all skill levels. Today, we continue to grow our network and share the state’s unparalleled water recreation opportunities. To learn more, please visit alabamascenicrivertrail.com.


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