By Nelson Jones
It’s the most wonderful time of the year; Green Race season is finally upon us! Those five minutes of pain, stoke, fear and joy are the best of the entire year. I cannot think of a better place to be at high noon on the first Saturday of November. It’s hard to pinpoint what makes the race so good – the huge after-party? Boofing into an amphitheater with 1,000 people cheering for carnage? Running the river with one hundred of your best friends? Lining up to a race against some of the best kayakers in world? Or simply going fast and taking chances? What it boils down to is the venue (the almighty Green River Narrows) and the organizers staying true to the roots of the race – no race fee, no prize money, just paddle hard, post your time and try to win the coveted stained glass. There’s a reason they call it The Greatest Show in Sports. One must be there in person to experience the magic firsthand; no amount of photos and video can do it justice. Getting to watch someone Spank the Monkey off Gorilla every minute for 3+ hours is one of the most awe-inspiring and terrifying things to behold. There is no doubt that carnage will be dished out to those that aren’t prepared or paddled to hard in the easier water above (evidence – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D35fat6vdWA).
Thus, I bring you the Green Race Guide for the mid-pack paddler:
1). Slow is Smooth and Smooth is Fast
As easy as it sounds, right? A common error first time racers make is to paddle too hard up top, get off line somewhere in Monster Mile with no energy and receive a piping hot plate of carnage. My personal Green Race mantra is Slow is Smooth and Smooth is fast. Focus on dialing in the lines and work on boat management/paddle stroke efficiency rather than just frantically hammering strokes.
2). Stay in the Good Flow
Very similar to tip #1. Dial in the lines in boogie water up top. Lap the rapid after Frankenstein until you know exactly when and where to take your strokes. Know exactly where you want to come off the rock at Whale Tail and the angle you want to have your boat for maximize acceleration. Having smooth and fluid lines on the smaller rapids is an easy way to make up time in the flatwater.
3). Don’t use the Green Race as a time to push your paddling limits
The Green Race is definitely about going fast and taking chances. But don’t confuse that with “I’m going to go run Gorilla for the 3rd time ever because there will be safety set.” This is a serious river that can dish out serious beatdowns very quickly. Be honest with yourself, your paddling ability and physical fitness when considering whether or not to race. That being said, we’re all in between swims and everybody crashes and burns once in a while. So if you’re ready to race, dial in those lines and go fast and take chances.
4). Don’t take yourself too seriously
You are not Pat Keller. Enjoy yourself, the race, the incredible atmosphere and racing against the pros. Don’t get too frustrated if you botch your line at Frankenstein, swim at Go Left, or simply get spun out by an eddyline, just remember to smile, keep paddling downstream and post that time! Also, remember to give a pro callout or two at the after party. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9SaFBX8Wq60)
5). Clean Teeth, Clean Lines
Need I say more? Live and die by this paddling mantra.
I have a feeling that this year will be as close or closer than as last year. Competition keeps on getting tougher and tougher and times are getting closer and closer. The question everyone is asking is: Will 4 minutes be broken? 2015 very well could be the year??
My pics for the Top 5:
1. Pat Keller – 4:09
2. Dane Jackson – 4:12
3. Isaac Levinson – 4: 14
4. Andrew Holcombe – 4:20
5. Eric Deguil – 4:22
Dark Horse – Mark Taylor – 4:45