Dane Jackson has set a new course record at the 2019 Green Race on the Green River in North Carolina. He has now placed 1st in both long and short boat twice after these recent results.
Dane was pushing for a sub 4 minute race time and missed it by very little. He is eager to get back out next year as he pieces together the perfect line to make it happen.
We had an opportunity to speak with Dane to learn a little more about his win.
1. Can you tell us a little about what this race means to you?
It’s just such an awesome time of the year to be in the southeast and I love those few weeks out there. The race itself is just like nothing else. Hanging out with so many awesome kayakers, and spectators while over a hundred racers come through, there’s nothing like it. I want to win whenever I show up, but the whole atmosphere of the event is what brings me back.
2. What did your new training regimen look like both in and out of the water?
This year was the first time I spent a little time in the gym as well as doing some running to get my cardio up and feel stronger. But more than anything it’s the first time I really analyzed the whole race section from previous race runs from myself and others, as well as my training laps once I was there.
I used to never look at my training times, but this time I really broke down as much of that course as I could. I mean, I was even breaking down the fastest way to go from the notch to the pad of Gorilla. Which was a lot of fun, and the places to save lots of time were not always where you would expect. So I know what I need to do to go Sub 4, but unfortunately, I didn’t put that run together this year.
3. How did film study play a role in your results?
The biggest thing was that it made me realize that the difference between a good and a great line even in simple moves was a lot of time saved in the end. When I wasn’t timing myself and analyzing, some of the easier moves might’ve looked like I was nailing it, and then I would mainly focus on the big rapids and whether or not I nailed those.
But after breaking down every foot of that run, I realized that even when something looks fast, it might still be a half-second or more slower than when I did it fastest previously. So it helped me know exactly where to not let my guard down for the whole run, and where to prioritize.
4. Can you tell us a bit about the water levels
So the water level ended up where I had a feeling it might drop to and that was a healthy 11-12in, and that is probably one of the hardest levels for the race. Although with a bit more juice there are places that you can shave some time, especially in the top section. It is one of the hardest levels to keep it smooth top to bottom, especially at the slides.
You are doing the exact same lines down the entire run as low water, but because everything is padded out, lots of the moves get pushier and harder to keep moving fast with the long boats. Especially the big rapids like the slides, because the holes get bigger, and therefore much harder to keep your speed up when boofing through.
So although I do feel that was a level that sub 4 could have happened for me, and maybe with the time saved with that bit more juice up top there is a little room for error. For race day that’s an extremely tough level to keep it moving, and I feel 9.5-10in with a perfect run is where sub 4 is at. I would have loved to live up to everyone’s expectations and broken sub 4 this year, I just didn’t put that perfect run together, but I am already anxious to try again next year.
It was last year that world champion Dane Jackson reached one of his career-long goals by winning the annual “Green Race” which takes place the first Saturday of every November in the Green River Narrows in western North Carolina. This year, at the 24th annual race, Dane arrived more focused than ever before. He navigated the class V savage whitewater with more skill and speed than 140 of the other long kayakers competing, and all others who have competed in the race’s two-plus decades-long history. Dane finished with a time of 4 minutes, 4 seconds, beating the previous race record by one second.
The Green Race is a special race for the paddling prodigy who grew up in Tennessee, only a few hours drive from the stretch of river where the race is held. The steep whitewater and hundreds of diehard fans that hike out to the race make it a special experience for Dane and all who compete.
“This is my tenth year competing in the race and I always look forward to it. It’s one of my favorite days of the year.” Dane said following the race.
At this year’s race, Dane took a new approach to reach his goals. This included a new training regimen both in and out of the water, enhanced film study of his runs, and modifications to his equipment; including using a much lighter kayak to give him maximum maneuverability in the rapids. These factors, along with near-ideal water conditions helped him break the record.
“The water level was a rare in-between level, not too high, not too low,” Dane said when describing the day’s river conditions. “That level gave me the potential to have the fastest time, but also made the moves were harder for the long kayaks, especially in the second half of the course. When I got to the bottom, I knew I didn’t quite reach my goal of a sub-4-minute time but was stoked to have a run without any major mistakes.”
Now that the Green Race long kayak record is his, Dane isn’t done taking his sport to new heights. He’ll continue to travel the world in search of challenges, experiences, and the most intense whitewater he can find. To check out his latest adventures, find him on his Instagram and YouTube channel.
Featured Photo: Joseph Eaton