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“The JK Fun Runner is an intriguing sporty boat design!” was my first thought when I saw the news about this new river runner from Jackson Kayak.  Little did I know at the time how much I would grow to love this new boat!  I picked up both sizes (60 & 70) of the boat from the JK factory to use in my Jackson Action Wagon demo fleet for our local pool sessions this winter.  The first pool session I attended with the Fun Runners was a big hit with everyone who tried out the new boats!  The first thing I noticed was how easy it rolled and several others agreed!  This boat is the perfect beginner boat with the ease of rolling and great primary stability!  The boat is also really easy to turn.  The boat in one word can be described as ZIPPY!

The Fun Runner 70 floats me close to the parting line of the boat @ 230 lbs; which makes the boat very sporty for me!  I am 6’-4” tall with a 36” inseam and I fit in the boat snug, but not too tight.  Colin Kemp gave me a great tip to make my feet more comfortable by shaping some heel blocks out of minicell foam on the uni-shock bulkhead system to keep my size 13 feet from going to sleep and once I stalled these blocks I can sit in the boat for hours in comfort!

In the past few weeks I have had the opportunity to paddle the Fun Runner 70 on the Nolichucky Gorge (Class III-IV) and Watauga Gorge (Class IV-V).  The Fun Runner handled both runs, which are very different type runs, with ease and some serious fun!

I got the Fun Runner out on the Noli first to see how it would spice up a classic river run like the Noli Gorge is known.  I quickly learned at the first little surf rapid that it was more than just a river runner.  This boat wants to surf on any size wave!  I easily established a surf on the small entrance wave and could work back and forth with very predictable control.  Then I started working my way down river with the group and found it to have good speed to zip back & forth.   The boat also makes ferries with ease!  Did I mention this boat has an auto pilot mood for making eddy moves?  It zips into eddies amazingly fast and high in the eddy!  The boat also peels out of eddies with a huge boost of confidence!  Our group worked our way down to Jaws rapid and that is where the real fun began in the Fun Runner!  I’ll let this awesome video shot and produced by Andy Woods do the rest of the talking for this trip!

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Once I was stoked about the fun trip on the Noli, I wanted to see what the Fun Runner could offer in a creek type run… I could think of no better place on earth to do this than on the Watauga Gorge!  The Watauga offers every type rapid there can be run.  The Fun Runner had no problem zipping through the technical boulder garden rapids!  The Fun Runner also made some very sporty ferry moves and elevator moves in the slide type rapids!  Then came the ledges… WOW, this boat can really boof well to my surprise!  The boat is way lighter than a normal creek boat, so you can really pump a landing by pulling your knees to your chest with ease!  I cranked one boof so hard off a 4 foot ledge that I landed stern first in a 30 degree angle back and the boat still accelerated away from the drop!  The Fun Runner handledStatelineFallswith ease also.  The entrance to the drop can be very pushy and half of the flow is crashing onto a rock on the left at the bottom of the drop.  The Fun Runner cut across the flow of the entrance with confidence and I landed a very nice flat boof on the right of the hole to zip into the right eddy to set safety for the others in my group to drop behind me.

Overall I think the Fun Runner truly lives up to its name!  It is a boat that is fun to river run in and any type paddler can find a good time in it!  It is the perfect beginner boat!  It offers great stability and comfort you’ve come to expect from JK.  The boat is very easy to roll with the lower and narrower sidewalls.  The boat is very predictable in current and handles general river running moves in a sporty style, while offering at the same time the ability to surf and spin on just about any size feature on the river with the fast hull speed.  This boat is also great for the seasoned paddler who wants to spice up a harder run!  Tired of running something in your creek boat, but want something sturdier than a playboat?  The Fun Runner is the perfect boat for you to do this!!  I also found that this boat is a great answer for the longer river runs that may wear you out in a playboat.  The Fun Runner will allow you to play and have lots of fun, but when you are ready to move on down the river, you have some speed to get it done 😉  Hope to see you on the river!