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I have always wanted to race the Class IV + Gorge/Crib section of the Penobscot River but never got the chance.

Last weekend Sarah, our two labs and I headed north for “The Race That Never Was”. We were meeting our friend Pete who was really excited to race again as it had been years since he last competed.

We arrived early to get in some practice runs. A couple area paddlers Mike and Will wanted to take a run with the Dynamic Duo. While I was hoping to get a practice run in the Duo, as I planned to race that too, it’s way too much fun to let people who’ve never been in it take it for a ride! They had an absolute blast! I ended up running safety in the Cribworks for a private raft while Pete scouted a line for his wavehopper.

On our second practice run Pete jumped in the wavehopper. I stuck close to him as it is quite challenging to get one of those boats down this section of river. It had been six years or so since he paddled Gorge/Crib in the downriver boat. He did really well but decided not to race it as those boats can wander off, even on great paddlers.

Race Time!
I was #14 and tore out of the eddy trying to exit the outflow of McKay Station as quickly as possible and head towards Xterminator. I caught more of the hole than I wanted and went right of everything else, trying to push my Super Hero as fast as I could.

I passed another racer quickly and heading into the Cribworks tried to relax and dig in for the finish where I caught the eddy and hit the finish rock!

I ended up 11th out of 35 racers with a k1 time of 9:28. Zack and I went back up to race the Dynamic Duo and ended with the 2nd fastest time on the river, 8:47.

As we drove shuttles, paddled and hung out it was amazing to see the number of people who made their way north to race, paddle, and spectate. A BIG thanks goes out to Jeremy Cass, Taylor Walker, safety boaters and others for the tireless work they put into the races this year. Up here in Maine we paddlers are fairly spread out so it’s unusual to see that many boaters together at once. It was a great weekend for Maine paddlers!

Special congrats go out to Will Mook in the men’s division and Jane Koopman in women’s for landing best overall times for the two races. There were some great prizes won including a shiny new JK Rockstar!

Next year it looks like I’ll need to start training early to compete, as the smack talk has already started!