re-sized booty beer

Is this the most extreme kayak race in the world?

The above carnage happens on a rapid called Gorilla on the Green River.

Kayak races seem to be tapping on the door at the moment. I was going to write on another, but then this one appeared which might not be long-distance, but it has the reputation of being one of the most extreme races in the world. Extreme it may be, but in November 2010, 150 international competitors were ready to take on the challenge.

The Green River Narrows in North Carolina is the venue. The gorge is dam fed, so it runs for most of the year. The race has been held on these white waters for 15 years consecutively. In 2010, 1,000 spectators trekked in to witness the carnage… ok, ok, that was a generalisation – some people run the rapids in impeccable style, but it ain’t easy!

Rapids that are named Frankenstein, Go Left or Die, Gorilla, etc have been given those names for a reason and the names give a mere hint to the surprises in this race. Held in the spectacular gorge near Asheville, North Carolina, the Green River Narrows attract the best kayakers in the world, but you definitely have an advantage if you are a local as you know what lines to run for this extremely fast race.

These rapids are not for the fainthearted, nor the inexperienced. Witness Go Left or Die below…

Crazy kayakers indeed!

It’s not an easy venue either. A fairly strenuous 3km hike down the mountain and then a scramble down a 1/2 mile long, completely eroded, and nearly vertical class 4-5 trail gets you to the gorge. Obviously the return is a bit of the same but this time all uphill. You can’t get lost though – there are plenty of others arriving with backpacks full of the days’ sustenance – enough to ensure survival throughout this awesome day! Even the paddlers have to hike in, and put in, way up above the race starting point.

The Green River has the reputation of being one of the most difficult and demanding extreme races in the world.  The paddlers enter the biggest rapids on the river after they have paddled as hard as they can for 3 minutes. There is no chance of catching a breath at the end of those 3 minutes.  It’s an immediate plunge into one of the biggest rapids ever confronted with no chance to evaluate your plan. It’s a race against the clock and paddlers leave the start at one minute intervals. They are clocked in at the end of the race.

The extreme Green River Narrows Kayak Race in North Carolina, USA

Green River Narrows

photo courtesy of

Winning a race like this means you’re an awesome kayaker. There are prizes for winners and bootie beers for swimmers … A bit of a chore I should imagine, bootie beers. It means having to have a good swig or more of beer out of someone’s boot. It might be a very well used boot! Hmmm…. de-licious!

Swimmers price at the extreme Green River Narrows Kayak Race, North Carolina

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2 Responses to “Is this the most extreme kayak race in the world?”

  1. Garrett
    2011 | 8 April at 15:52 #

    Wow impressive stuff, those rapids are very gnarly! wouldnt want to end up in one of those if you didnt know what you were doin!


  1. Kayaking at Hell Hole on the Ocoee River | Xtremesport - 2012 | 26 March

    […] Check out one of the most extreme kayak races in America, perhaps the most extreme? – North Carolina’s Green River… […]

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