Green Race 2019
This year I finally decided to to make a point to heading back to the Green Race after missing it that past couple races. So 5 days prior to the race I decided to drive up to the Asheville area and get a couple laps in before the race. I met up with Dane Jackson, Hayden Voorhees and Tom Dole as we all camped out in Dane’s RV by the takeout and focused on getting in as many laps as we could, as well as focus on race lines and fast laps. It felt great to have a crew to train with and it certainly made the shuttles a lot easier.
I was amazed at how quickly the race lines came back to me after several years without attending the Green Race. Between my memory kicking in, and Dane showing me the newest and fasted lines, as well as non stop video review with the entire crew I quickly felt I was catching up to speed. My whole idea of attending the race was to focus on what was most fun for me, and that was paddling my short boat. I knew if I even brought a longboat I would either be temped or heckled, so by bringing only my 9 foot Nirvana I was left with no other choice then to race it. Our training days was awesome, filled with tons of time on the water and off the water focusing on the fastest lines.
Then out of the blue 2 days before the race North Carolina got slammed with rain and brought the river levels up from 7” to 42” within a 24 hour period. We had quickly gone from drought stage to flood level. This brought a lot of question to what would happen with the race. Race day came on the first Saturday of November to kick off the annual Green Race.
This year was number 24, and for Dane and I we started the day off with our pre-race breakfast at Cracker Barrel, consisting of black coffee and blueberry pancakes. We still didn’t know what the levels would be, and for me I was still on the fence regarding whether I would be racing or not. I was quite ready to race at levels I hadn’t paddled before. We went ahead and set shuttle and found out at the takeout that a couple people had paddled in with a reported level of 12-13 on the gauge. This was music to my ears as I was fearing super high levels and hoping for anything around 12-13 inches on the gauge.
We were a touch late rolling up to the Put-in, though luckily John Grace helped us get through registration like a breeze. We got to catch the second half of Jason Hail’s pre-race hype speech which got everyone in the mood to go fast and kick off the 24th Green River Race. Dane had won last year so he was up first with bib #1 and the first racer on course with a 12 o’clock start time. I was bib 128 so I had some time to walk the course and watch some racers. I watch many people run down the course, some looking fact and clean, other less so with a couple lines that made me cringe. By the time I was up I felt ready to just cruise down the course trying to stay on my line. I was feeling great, going with a smooth speed and conserving some energy in this 4-5 minute race. All was going great, though at ‘Go Left’ I had come to the conclusion that the high water would require me to drive a touch harder left. This assumption was incorrect and caused a bobble though the slot the landed me in the left eddy at the bottom and costing me a couple valuable seconds.
I got back on track and kept on cruising at my pace, hitting the lines like I wanted to. As I came into Gorilla, my nerves were high due to a wreck there earlier in the week, though I pushed out the fear and kept charging through with confidence and nailed the line just as I wanted. The run from Gorilla down through the lower slide went well and I felt like I finished strong. My goal was to “keep it upright and pointed downstream” which I certainly did. It was an awesome feeling to achieve what I set out to do, regardless of my place. After my race I walked up to watch the final racers and spectate with our crew. Once the final racers went through I jumped back into my boat and paddled down to the takeout for the after party and awards.
We headed down to the new after party/ awards location which was just downstream of the takeout in a giant field and festival site. This new location was perfect for the awards as vendors could set up booths, there was a giant bonfire and plenty of food trucks and beer supplied by Fat Tire.
Once it was dark John Grace and crew kicked off the awards with some carnage awards, Jr times and Women’s. I wasn’t so shocked to see that Isaac Hull won the Jr. category, but blown away that his time would have placed him 4th in the Men’s. Adrienne also claimed her 9th Green race title in the female division.
As it turns out I placed third in the short boat behind Eric Deguil (also the winner of the carnage award for his swim in long boat), and Dane Jackson, who set a new course record in short boat. Though the main prestige is simple the fastest person down the Green, Ie. the long boat division. They started listing times from 10th place down, with a lot of the who’s who’ on the scene making it to the top 10. Once down to the top three, it was announced that Pat Keller took 3rd. Michael Ferraro took 2nd and Dane Jackson set another course record with a 4:04 to take home his back to back victories. It was an incredible race, a great week a training, and simply a blast to get to paddle this amazing river in the full fall colors with some amazing friends. It made me realize again how this is not a race to miss and one that will already be scheduled in on my calendar for next year. I already can’t wait for the 2020 Green Race, Let’s Go!
For more information on the Green Race https://greenrace.us
Learn more about Nick Troutman here.