What’s Different About the 2020 Green Race? Interview with Race Organizer John Grace

Special Events
Victoria Ohegyi
The Green Race of Year’s Past. Courtesy of The Green Race.

We’re now only a few days away from the infamous Green Race. Bobby Kuepper of CKS Online caught up with kayaker, race organizer, and Hammer Factor raconteur John Grace to get some updates on what the Green Race will look like in 2020. 

The “Greatest Show in All of Sports” will occur next weekend, November 7th near Saluda, NC. Grace explained that it’ll be “business as usual” for those racing, just with more masks. For those watching, the Green Race will be a whole lot different. 

Event organizers are limiting those inside the Gorge to racers, parents of juniors, and safety boaters. While the energy of over a thousand people from all walks of life shouting on the rocks above Gorilla will be missed, Grace is optimistic that the smaller, and more core crowd will carry the same level of stoke all day long, and that spectators will be satisfied with the live feed. After all The Show Must Go On. 

It’s gotta.

Outside of a quieter and tamer Bedrock Coliseum, there will also be fewer racers this year battling it out. State and country COVID restrictions have limited the number of boaters available and willing to travel to North Carolina and race. Currently, attendance is down approximately 10%, but there could be an influx of last-minute entries from the I-need-to-get-out-and-paddle-YOLO crowd. 

If 2020 taught us anything, it’s that kayaking is one of the best sports for social distancing. It’ll be no different for the Green Race this year. Racers already have the Narrows to themselves from the jump all the way

The Green Race of Year’s Past. Courtesy of The Green Race.

According to Grace, the race is, and always has been, about the “core crowd” of the whitewater. Adriene Levknecht and Dane Jackson are expected to defend their 2019 titles. Dane cracking the 4-minute barrier is the hot topic of the year. Some say it’s statistically certain, others are a bit more skeptical.

The top 10 is hotly contested online. Former juniors Isaac Hull and Jeremy Nash may give Dane a run for his money and could very well be within striking distance if Dane messes up. 

The Green Race of Year’s Past. Courtesy of The Green Race.

Regardless of who wins, there’ll be some sharp dressing, high stepping good times afterwards.  2020 will be the first-ever Drive-In Green Race Awards. Located just over a mile downstream from the Fish Top Access area, festivities will include crownings of the 2020 Champions, camping, and live music. Spots are limited, but Grace is excited: “Everyone will have their own basic campsite where they can build their own fire and have their own space.” 

CKS Online employees are most excited about Green Race Live! The 25th Annual Green Race will be broadcast live for the first time in its 25 year history. The event will be covered top to bottom with multiple live drones and cameras to ensure viewers don’t miss a second of the show. 

The Green Race of Year’s Past. Courtesy of The Green Race.

Live Feed cost is $30 and a portion of the proceeds will be donated to the Green Race Conservation Project. The broadcast should be especially enticing to those who normally race or hustle down the ravine to watch, but can’t make it down this year. West coast beaters looking to create their own drinking game should also check out the live feed.

This whitewater pay-per-view is the perfect opportunity to witness a world class event without getting up from the couch. 

The Green Race of Year’s Past. Courtesy of The Green Race.

Kayakers can still register online. Registration and live viewing fees are used to keep the stoke alive, and events ON, during these wild times. John Grace and crew have worked hard to put on and promote the Green Race for the past 24 years, and we can’t wait to see what year 25 will bring. See you at high noon. 

We’ll discuss Green flow levels, 12′ boats, and more on our next blog later this week. Drop us a comment with any other Green Race topics you’d like to hear from us.

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