It Never Gets Easier

But it does get way more fun!!! My 10th Green Race has come and gone. The 20th Annual Green River Race has just ended and I am still reeling from the excitement. This was my 10th year in a row racing and I felt more comfortable out there than ever before. I have spent more time in a kayak and I am much stronger than any other year. I did more full training laps with no stops and was even doing full race laps at 200% (just in case).

Maybe it was the higher water levels coming into the Green Race this year that made it feel more like just another day on the water. It got me thinking more about my kayaking than going fast. I had my first injury in a long time at Gorilla at 200%, during a race lap. I flipped where speed trap would have been and smacked my face on the shelf rock on the left. I cut my eyelid open and had a little bit of a black eye. That did not stop me from getting back on that Monkey and running Gorilla at 200% again, with my eyelid still glued, two days later. 

Someone asked me if it ever gets easier to race the Green. It doesn’t get easier, the rapids are still challenging, there are still moves to make, the rocks still get in the way, it seriously just gets way more fun!!

As you get to know a river better, you naturally become more comfortable on it. Even something as easy as doing class two attainments on the Nantahala becomes easier. You learn where the invisible rocks live, where you can conserve energy for the next move and accelerate using the least amount of strength or energy. I have over 1,000 runs on the Green River, at levels ranging from 2 inches all the way to 34 inches. I know the moves I absolutely have to make and the moves that I can maybe make a small mistake on. 

 Photo by: Hunter Cooper

Photo by: Hunter Cooper

Another question was; “What makes the Green Race such a special race, why do you keep coming back?” I keep coming back because it’s my home! The Green is where I cut my teeth when I first moved here and honed in on my creeking skills. There is only one class 5 race in the World that has 150 racers with a cap of 180 start times, thats the Green Race. There is only one race in the World where people race class 5 in a boat that is over 11 feet long, thats the Green Race. There is only one race in the World where 700+ people hike over 2 miles over treacherous terrain to watch a bunch of kayakers go off a huge section of cascades, thats the Green Race. Those reasons are the reasons why I keep coming back. 

 Photo by: Serge Skiba

Photo by: Serge Skiba

 Photo by: Peter Holcombe

Photo by: Peter Holcombe

But, alas, the race never gets easier. It is fun to see the first time racers finishing successfully, it is fun to see people get their personal best times, it is fun to see how many people are out there doing training laps. This Green Race community is the best whitewater community in the World and I am honored to take part in it. 

This year was a race against myself. I knew I needed to keep my head game in it and not let the hype get to me. I silenced my demons after splitting my eye open 8 days before the race and put my brain to the test. I am stoked to win a 7th Green Race and I hope that there will be many more to come.

357 days until November 5th 2016, see you there.