Inside the 2015 Green Race – The Contenders
Inside the 2015 Green Race with Shane Benedict: The Contenders
The 20th Annual Green Race is shaping up to be either the most insanely intense yet or the largest field of racers ever. Intense if the river continues to run higher than most people have ever run the Green. The river has run at more than twice the normal flow for the last couple weeks, and we just received a couple more inches of rain, which has sent all the watersheds into near flash flood mode suggesting the folks guarding the lake will send out more big flows.
The majority of racers in town have gone off to run other rivers the last couple days, and the Green reached thirty inches on the gauge two days ago, where normally it would be eight inches for the race. It does seem as though the levels will probably be controllable by the dam, but with more rain in the forecast, who knows what will happen. If the levels are super high, my guess is that there will be a max of 30 people racing on one of the craziest racecourses ever. However if the river levels drop back to normal, we get to that alternate prediction: all signs point to this will be the biggest Green Race yet -yet again.
The races that lead up to, our race, the Green, have seen much higher than normal attendance. There has also been a steady stream of racers firing through the gorge preparing to make it a full day of balls-and-boobs-to-the-wall racing come Saturday.
Here are the contenders as I see them coming into the weekend.
The past year has seen Dane win just about every competition he has entered. Two weeks ago he beat most of his Green Race competition at the Russell Fork race by a massive seven seconds. The training runs that I have seen have been classic Dane, precise, online, and fast. I have Dane as the odds-on favorite. He has wanted it for a long time and this year should be his start, with potentially more to follow in the future.
Last year he was coming off an injury that didn’t allow him to really go for it. This year, he has been on the road non-stop, but he has also been paddling a ton. The gleam is in his eye but the question remains: does he have enough? The young prodigy has graduated to Jedi master: he just needs to feel the force. (cheeseball, I know, but you know it is true)
Two time champ Isaac Levinson. That is all you have to say. He knows the lines and has been able to put them together before. He has been training hard and I could see him bringing in another stained glass trophy. Insert corny joke about his Karma here.
Alec is a real dark horse here. He is pretty much unknown in the southeast, but he has been putting in great times in races, including a top 25 at Sickline just a couple months ago against Olympic-caliber slalom paddlers and the cream of the crop from here at this event.
Geoff Calhoun has been in my list of contenders for quite a while, and this year is no different. It will take a perfect run by anyone to finish on top and he is capable of it. He just has to keep the wheels on the bus.
Eric has raced in all but one race since 2008 and placed in the top 5 every single time. There is no one more consistent than he. Maybe the beat down and swim that he had during high water practice runs will kick him in the pants and put him on top, finally!
I know you all are getting tired of my predictions but I have to slip this one in there. Colin Hunt is the local local who is going to sneak up there and show some top dogs what is up. He has been quietly moving his way up the rankings for the last couple years and this might just be his coming out party. I ain’t saying he is going to win but he is going to throw down a really quick time.
Though Adriene may have a lock on this race her time may some day come to an end. More and more ladies are putting down solid lines and quick times here at the Green. It’s fun to see the number of women pushing themselves on this river grow year after year. Hopefully we’ll see the women’s racing division grow as well. Several young rippers will be hot on Lil A’s heels, and could be the future of the sport.
The six-time champ has a strangle-hold on the women’s category. She is the obvious choice if you bet on this kind of thing. After taking the freestyle world by storm this past year, the Queen of Green is coming back for more and she is in the best shape of her life. I hate to say this kind of thing, but it is her race to lose– but I don’t see that happening at all.
Mary Katherine Fields (AKA The Mkat)
Mkat as they call her is just starting to get into the racing world but has a strong river running background with some impressive paddling exploits including 100 foot Desoto Falls. Now she is pushing herself to step up and race the Green.
Moriah Heaney is another fresh face in the Green river community who is shaking the leaves loose from the trees. She has been laying down some nice lines and has a slalom background that could make her a contender in the future.