The Green Race is the big fall event here in Asheville and one of the biggest and most challenging extreme races in the world. This year the low water flow added to the difficulty and excitement. Usually the dam operators at Tuxedo cooperate with the race organizers in low flow years to open an extra generator. Unfortunately one of the generators was broken this year so they couldn’t release more water for the race. This means that Gorilla, the biggest, hardest rapid in the race, was more difficult than usual. A lot of racers weren’t even running the rapid that often in their practice runs because they were afraid of getting hurt and many talented paddlers opted out of the race entirely
Nonetheless, there were over 90 racers and a huge spectator crowd at Gorilla. Carnage opened the race with the course setter going off of Gorilla dead sideways. The next racer was my husband, Andrew Holcombe. He was first because he held the title from the year before and still holds the course record. He’s one of the best paddlers in the world and I rarely see him mess up his lines. So… I was surprised and a little concerned when he got turned around after the notch and ran Gorilla backwards! Since I was watching from the notch I couldn’t see his actual run down the falls, but I did see him washing out at the bottom upside down. I was happy to see him roll up and immediately shot his fist up in the air in good sport fashion. The crowd went wild with cheers. I was very relieved that he wasn’t hurt and he continued down the next rapid backwards. It turns out that he had spun out up at Go Left and also messed up his line at Zwix so when he ran Gorilla backwards he says it just made him laugh and topped off a bad race for him. I admire his good sportsmanship and his ability to let a disappointing performance roll off of his back. After all that he still ended up 5th which is pretty good considering!
There were a lot of other bad runs over Gorilla that made people cringe… backwards, sideways, upside down, paddles breaking, petons. Luckily no one got hurt and the crowd was good at cheering everyone on. There were also really good, smooth runs down Gorilla. Fellow Dagger paddler Pat Keller took the title this year. I think I heard there were over 30 Dagger Green boats in the race which is awesome. It’s really cool that all paddlers have access to new, modern race boats.
The women paddled really smoothly and they were fun to watch. There were three women this year, two in
long boats, Adrienne Levknecht and Laura Farrell, and one in a short boat, Louise Urman from New Zealand. I have a lot of respect for these women who raced because it’s a tough race. They have a lot of courage and talent. Adrienne had a fantastic run through Gorilla and she and Laura tied for first. All three women had nice lines and looked smooth.
For complete race results and video visit LVM.