The above carnage happens on a rapid called Gorilla on the Green River.
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.
photo courtesy of http://www.meetup.com/The-Greenville-Canoe-Kayak-Meetup/photos/
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!