The Magic of the Green Race, Race Report – (It’s That Time of the Year Again #4 – Kayak Session 2013 Green Race Coverage with Shane Benedict)
By Shane Benedict
Sitting alongside the river during the race this year, the whole spectacle of what this event has become completely overwhelmed me. The First Ever Green River Narrows race featured sixteen competitors and a smattering of their friends who weathered the steep hike into Gorilla. Ten years before that, everyone thought the river itself wholly unrunnable. And then, this year, more than 140 paddlers went as hard as they could through the crux of the Green’s whitewater and boulder gardens. Untold numbers of spectators crowded the banks, stacked deeper than ever before. Specialized rescue crews covered the rapids from top to bottom. News outlets, photographers, and videographers from all over the area and the world covered every angle of the event. Hell, a copter-cam hovered over the crowd, capturing unique angles of the runs. Not just the event, but Mother Nature, too, put on a spectacular show of her own right along with the paddlers. The fall leaves glowed in a perfect range of amber colors as they rained down, and a Great Blue Heron patrolled the puffy-white-dotted blue sky (perhaps to put that camera-carrying RC helicopter in its place). A giant old-growth tree planted itself in the main current of the course, changing the river’s path and putting the racers in their places, adjusting to the new line.
The paddlers each have amazing stories about their travels, hopes, causes, successes, and defeats. This year’s Glass Trophy winner, Pat Keller, fought through a 5-year drought during which injury, jobs, and tough breaks blocked his ascent of the podium. Katrina Van Wijk battled out from under the gigantic shadow of the strongest little lady we know to win her first Green River Race. Tad Dennis, coming off a Silver Medal in the Freestyle World Championships, pushed through the pain of the recently-diagnosed case of Shingles disease to « post a time » because, as he put it, « I knew I was going to be in pain so I might as well be in pain on the river ». Keith Sprinkle, 6-time champion of the race, pinned this year, swam, and had to pull his boat out of « Go Left. » Of course he got back in to finish his run, because that is what you do. Ben Fraker, an Olympic-level slalom paddler, found himself thwarted from a Green Race Championship two years ago by a mere twist of carbon, when his paddle broke off in his hands. He came back this year and not only won but crushed the previous race record. How about the story of Isaac Levinson who broke his back earlier this year running a waterfall, and recovered to not only place in the top 10 but win the short boat division. For each of these high profile stories, another intense and heartfelt one exists that we just don’t know about- yet. Who knows what dreams were nurtured on the banks of the river that day in those that hiked miles and slid down steep slippery slopes to the river. Was the next Pat Keller sitting amongst us by the river? Or even better I think the inspiration from this day will help us all dream or desire to do a little more. This is the magic of the Green Race.
Here are a few fun facts about the Green Race thanks to John Pilson and the American Whitewater Green Race Information Page and boatingbeta.com.
> Pat Keller took 6 seconds off his personal best time to win this year.
> Katrina Van Wijk set a new Women’s Record by 14 seconds.
> Ben Fraker set a new C-1 Record by 10 seconds.
> There were 121 racers this year.
> There were 39 new Green Racers this year.
> 19 new people broke the 5 minute barrier. The Green Race Holy Grail.
> Rebecca « Mermaid » Lewis made some history being the first time ever female handpaddler racing.
Winners by category
K-1 : 1 Pat Keller, 2 Dane Jackson, 3 Eric Deguil
K-1W: 1 Katrina Van Wijk, 2 Adriene Levknecht, 3 Emily Shanblatt
C-1: 1 Ben Fraker, 2 Jordan Poffenberger, 3 Brad McMillan
Handpaddlers: 1 Geoff Calhoun, 2 Bill Clipper, 3 Jake Trotter
Short Boat Men: 1 Isaac Levinson, 2 Dane Jackson, 3 Pat Keller
Short Boat Women: 1 Katrina Van Wijk, 2 Adriene Levknecht
Open Canoe: 1 Jordan Poffenberger, 2 Brad McMillan
For Complete Results Go Here > http://greenrace.amongstit.com/