The thunderous whitewater of the Narrows of the Green River are world-renowned for a good reason – the intimidating Class V rapids are non-stop, and the difficulty of the river rises as the paddlers get deeper into the gorge until they come face to face with The Gorilla, a man-eating beast of a rapid that has the potential to crush kayaks – unless of course the paddlers are able to escape the grasp of the beast by taking the proper line through this fierce rapid. The regularly scheduled dam-released flows of the Green River offer consistent water levels down one of the steepest rivers in the Southeast, providing the perfect training ground for Asheville’s most serious boaters.
On the first Saturday of November every year, paddlers not only paddle down the rowdy river – they race. First dreamed up in 1996 by Leland Davis and his paddling partners while running the shuttle on the Gauley River in West Virginia, the Green River Race has evolved to become one of the most revered and exhilarating whitewater races in the entire United States. The race takes on the steepest section of the Narrows (pronounced by the locals as, The Gnarrs), and sends the paddlers down a never-ending barrage of whitewater through extremely difficult rapids like “Go Left or Die,” “Gorilla,” and “Sunshine.” The best times in the race usually check in around the five mintue mark, but last year Asheville paddler Andrew Holcombe raised the bar by clocking in a race run of four mintues and 18 seconds, setting a new record for the race.
Spectators are welcome at the event, and in past years around 500 people have come out to cheer on the participants, but be warned: the trail to the rapids is steep and can be slick and difficult to navigate.
For more info on the Green River Race, the history of the event, and past champions, click here.