Earlier this month Ethan and I attended the 22nd annual Green Race! What is that you might ask? It is no doubt the single most famous, most respected, and most competitive creek race on the planet. The annual Green Race remains a fabulous and homespun affair held each fall on the steepest section of western North Carolina’s Green River Narrows (American Whitewater). The Green Race began in 1996 and has been scheduled to start at noon on the first Saturday in November ever since. It is a timed down river boat race where people come from all over the country, and often times the world, to participate. While it is a world renowned and recognized race, I do not think that is what it is most known for locally. The Green Race has become known as a warmhearted gathering of all outdoor enthusiasts alike. Hundreds of friends and family members either hike or paddle in to watch and cheer on the racers. Spectators are scattered on the banks and boulders that surround the steepest section of the river. The most popular place to sit is near a rapid called Gorilla. Gorilla, a.k.a “the Monkey,” is the most infamous rapid of the Green River narrows and takes many boaters on a wild ride.
Ethan and I paddled in with friends and then spent the day at various rapids watching and cheering on the racers. We were even able to spend time with other Merrie-Woode friends including Tara Tecce, long time camper, counselor and former Would-Be Leader, and Carrie Schlemmer, former river specialist. It is such a privilege to be a part of the boating community here in the Southeast. It is always growing but somehow stays small enough that each race day feels like going home. Being greeted with hugs and smiles in a place that you love and have learned so much about yourself is truly priceless. While I have no desire to race on this section of whitewater, seeing my friends out there racing is always an inspiration to continue pushing myself in the sport and have fun while doing it.
This year my friend, Katie Dean, raced with her one-of-a-kind sparkly Dagger Green Boat. She was in an elite group. Out of about 175 racers there were only 6 women to race. She won second place! Some years there have been more women but for the past twenty years there have always been somewhere between 1 and 7 women registered. This is just a small picture into the ratio of men to women in the whitewater kayaking world. My hope is that the girls of Merrie-Woode would take what they are learning at camp into the whitewater boating community and help change this pattern!