Thursday, February 07, 2008

The Green Race: Boofing into a Stadium

Adrian hucking her meat in front of several hundred of her best friends. This picture rocks.
Photo By Ben Edson of

The Full Tour of Green Race Week.

In reality the energy levels change completely around the Green River about a month before the race. Everybody starts pulling the race boats out of the basement and running straighter lines. Elite fighter squads are pounding down the river not catching a single eddie and just barely looking back to check on their wingmen and women. These are the folks that are vying for the top spots. Hoping maybe they are in the running for, "the glass".
There is also another really cool energy on the river with folks thinking about doing the race for the first time and thus thinking about running Gorilla in front of hundreds of people, or ,"going left" for the first time.
And then of course there are all the local buds egging each other on, and boasting and bragging about how they are going to kick ass this year and that when they got eddied out after powerslide last year it was a fluke and they have their lines dialed now. In any case everyone is jacked up, excited, and nervous for one reason or another. The real goal is to just get down in one piece.

Adrian riding the lightning during practice runs.

The week before the race the favorites are much quieter, focused, and very much on a mission. They are pounding out multiple runs and trying to get the last doubts out of their mind on how they are going to run, "that stupid rapid just below Frankenstein". The folks that are just running the river like normal are caught in the crossfire of group after group of fast paddlers bombing all the rapids its kind of like trying to merge into highway traffic. During that final week I know more than once I found myself getting nervous about something then realizing that I was thinking about "going direct" at Gorilla.

The other thing that is fun about the week just before the race is that all the out of town talent starts to show up. This year we had folks from all over the U.S. and a few out of country folks. Its always interesting to watch them try to wrap their brains around the number of rapids, the routes, and the sublties of each F. U. rock in between. Let alone see them first get the nerve up to run Gorilla and then think about doing it during a race in just a few days.

The festivities start on Halloween. It was Wednesday this year I think and Anthony Perrone was hosting a huge Halloween party again this year. This one is becoming an instant classic that fits well into the week before the race. All the out of towners are in, and folks are ready to cut loose a little, nerves you know. Anthony's house was tricked out with gravestones, haunted house music, and a skeleton and wolverine were playing music downstairs. Everyone was out in fine form.

Anthony's Halloween Bash

Yours Truly Very Cute Pirate

Is that Sacajawea? Jason Hale as 70's model.

"Bullets N Lace" dressed as the Skeleton and Wolverine
The band was awesome. I have now seen them a couple times and I am ready for more. They were
a great mix of vintage indy, groovin' punk, and a bunch of given'r with a two piece style that works really well.
Here is a link to their page. Bullets N Lace Myspace Page

Good Halloween Dancing

Some folks had to recover from the party some went to bed early but everyone made it to the river on Thursday when the water was turned up by Frank. Thanks goes to Sarah Bell from Green River Adventures for keeping the dialog open with Duke power and thanks of course goes to Frank for flipping the switch. We got two days of practice at a nice fluffy real 100%. It was as high as the water had been all summer pretty much which made it feel high, but oh so sweet.

Thursday night was the Premier of LVM number 24. Everyone showed up for pizza, beer, and kayak porn. Thursday was also a big day because Woody's new house, shouting distance from the take out, cleared inspection and the power and water were turned on with only a few days to spare for the Green Race Party on Saturday night after the race.

Toby McDermott taking advantage of a little extra turbine love during practice on Thursday and Friday.

Friday we got another practice session in. Some folks didn't paddle but I couldn't resist with all that water out there. Thursday and Friday before the race are awesome. Everyone is really psyched especially this year. When I came around the rocks of chiefs and saw all the folks checking out the notch I knew that the water was a good fluffy level. We hadn't seen this much water in a while so people were nervous but excited. The energy level on the rock over looking Gorilla was great. After having a smooth run. I ran back up to watch and it was an spectacular show. I am not kidding it seemed like 50 kayakers came through Gorilla with hardly a break between them. There were people dropping in on others as they came over Pencil Sharpener, folks running it backwards, paddlers surfing in the speed trap, others were sliding in and walking back up. It was chaos and it was a pleasure to watch and thank goodness I got through Gorilla before all the action started.

Jason Passing out the Bibs
Photo by Sam Drevo of
eNRG Kayaking

Saturday morning starts fairly early, for a kayaker. Jason and I were down at the take out taking last minute registrations from people signing up. The number kept growing and growing. The parking lot was full and cars, trucks, and vans full of kayaks. We all headed up to the put-in and thats where the nerves really start.m At the top everyone gets their bibs and then the traditional photo happens. Long boats up in the back and everyone spread out in between.

The Racers 2007 Photo by Sam Drevo eNRG Kayaking

After the picture its all nerves, panic, focus, anticipation, and racing. This year with over a hundred individual racers and 30 or so folks doing the Greenman comp. It meant that there would be two hours of people hucking themselves off of Gorilla one right after the other only one minute apart. Throw in a crowd possibly approaching a thousand and you have a crazy kayak experience. At the start you are surrounded by friends all excited and cheering for you but almost immediately as you drop into Frankenstein you are alone. It is just you and the river. It is a very stark part of the race because you can hear yourself breathing and you feel every stroke, every rock, and every smooth line. As you come off the Whale Tail and start down towards "Boof or Consequences" you sense that there are a few people around and once you enter "Go Left" there are people pretty much every where but the crowd and the noise are at Gorilla. Though I feel fortunate that I can't really hear folks or see much when I enter Gorilla, I do sense the density and closeness of people, and a distinct difference in the sound around me. When I walked back up to do my second run is when I realized how many people really were there. From Powerslide up to Gorilla it is packed! It was difficult to walk upstream. Its like trying to get to the bar to order a drink on a Friday night. You have to tap on shoulders and sneak through spaces where available.

Robin Betz running the "Flying Squirrel" line on her winning run.
Photo by Sam Drevo of eNRG Kayaking

As for the actual racing there are several strategies. The first strategy most folks use on their first race is to keep a steady smooth pace until Gorilla. That way you aren't exhausted and you can feel your arms while you are trying to negotiate the hardest rapid on the course. And there is nothing more helpless than surfing in the hole just below Gorilla with tons of people yelling at you and you can't feel your arms. Strategy two is go fast at the top and then try to smooth all the harder rapids. The opening two minutes of the race are fairly easy whitewater except Frankenstein so many folks paddle that section hard and then chill a bunch during the hard stuff so as to just clean their lines. The only problem is if you do get surfed or eddied out you got nothing. Your arms don't feel like they are attached. You are telling yourself to pull but nothing is happening. The last strategy which is pretty much becoming the only one that will win the race is to go full out much of the time only calming yourself just above each technical drop. But the common theme you hear about this race is you win it in the top of the course and you lose it at the bottom. Which basically comes down to easier rapids at the top to go fast in and harder rapids that are easy to eddie out in at the bottom of the course.

As for Liquidlogics performance and my feelings about the raceboat. First I have to start with Robin winning the women's category in record time, and Adrian coming in third in longboat and tying for first in the short boat. The girls were awesome and they styled it all. In the men's category we had 7 of the top 14 times. And I had my best time ever by 8 seconds. I was stoked. For only having a hand full of days to practice in them I think we all did a great job. Next year I am going to have perfect lines and train harder

For the results from this year you can go here. All 2007 Race Times
Or if you really want to check out the evolution of the Green Race. All Green Race Results

The backwards line just for the crowd. Its a different way to look at the world.
Photo By Ben Edson of

This is not wilderness paddling. Also note the safety crew tethered in so they can jump in and pull people to
shore if need be.
Photo By Ben Edson of

Adam Secrest given'r handpaddle style
Photo By Ben Wiggins of

There are many fun parts to this whole event but one of the best is after you have done your race run and you walk back up and hang with your buds. Everyone is excited about their run or their crash, or a buddies story about his run. Mostly everyone is just relieved I think. It goes back to that last sentence in the first paragraph. Everyone is just trying to get down in one piece but the energy level is sky high. 120 people going fast down the Green with a thousand people yelling and pushing you equals the biggest combined adrenaline rush in the world. I heard a great quote while sitting on the rocks watching the safety crew do their thing at the speed trap. "Man its crazy its like boofing into a stadium", and that rush carries over from the race, goes down the river, and ends up at Woody's house at the take out. Which always makes for one of the best parties of the year.

The crowd that wasn't on the deck.
Photo by Sam Drevo of eNRG Kayaking

The crowd that was on the deck while Jason threw prizes to the crowd.
Photo by Sam Drevo of eNRG Kayaking

The Party Host Woody Callaway
Photo by Sam Drevo of eNRG Kayaking

One of the pieces of Glass given out.
Photo by Sam Drevo of eNRG Kayaking

Jason about to announce the winners.
Photo by Sam Drevo of eNRG Kayaking

Andrew Holcombe and "The Glass". The trophy for the fastest person down the Green.
Photo by Sam Drevo of eNRG Kayaking

The Morning After.
Photo by Sam Drevo of eNRG Kayaking

The morning after this year was pretty amazing. Woody had around 300 people at his house so it was a disaster the next day. I think there were close to 15 bags of bottles, cans, and other oddities left behind. And your first reaction might have be, "oh that pisses me off", but what happened instead was a group of people just started picking up Woody's house first thing in the morning. Another group picked up the put-in, some other folks took garbage bags down to the river and cleaned that up, and others cleaned up the take out. Sure we would love to think we would all be responsible for our own trash but the reality is that sometimes it doesn't happen and how cool is it that we as paddlers don't mind cleaning up after ourselves. We may come from all walks of life and drink everything from PBR to Micro Brews but we all love the river and that keeps us coming back.


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