In football you have the Super Bowl, in baseball you have the World Series, and in Hockey you have the Stanley Cup. In the world of whitewater paddling, you have the Green Race.
The uniqueness of the Green Race lays in history of the event. It was started by friends and it has continued to be run by friends and supported by volunteers. For the racers it is a chance to showcase the river that they love so much, and for a chance to win the small handmade glass trophy.
Sporting events create their own feel and excitement, and for some the event seems to start weeks ahead of time. For me the changing of the leaves, the cool mornings, and the line of eleven-foot-plus kayaks on top of car roof racks driving on I-26 between Saluda, NC, and Hendersonville, NC, means it is once again time for the annual Green River Narrows Race.
The Narrows of the Green is a world class stretch of whitewater tucked away on the Henderson and Polk County line. With Falling Creek’s proximity to the Green river, it seems that each year several campers, counselors, and alumni show up to watch the race… and a few brave souls that compete.
Along the banks of the Green River on Saturday, I ran into Mel Ringler (counselor), Asa Walker (camper), Corey Hopkins (counselor), Andrew Smith (counselor), James Boyd (camper and counselor), Adam Secrest (counselor), Polk Deters and his son Scout (camper and counselor), Michael Welch (camper), Steve McGrady (camper), Brent Denys and his father (camper), Sean Thompson(camper), Charles Jordan (counselor), Annie Martin (counselor), and Andrew Holcombe (Huck counselor).
The race is roughly a mile long and the winning time this year was 4:18 which was set by Andrew Holcombe and is the current course record. The course is made up of several class IV and V rapids, with Gorilla being the marquee rapid of the event.
Gorilla is a five-foot-wide flume that drops 18 vertical feet, truly a remarkable sight. Standing and watching paddlers come through the notch and soar off the horizon line of Gorilla every minute for well over three hours, can take one’s breath away.
- Ben Williams