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The Cuyahoga Falls Kayak Race is only a few years old but it has already gained very much attention from paddlers and the general public and for good reason. This event is unlike most kayak events or festivals because the class V section we kayak runs directly through downtown Cuyahoga Falls, which is about as urban as it gets. The river runs through numerous cities such as Cuyahoga Falls almost creating a disguise for the natual beauty and busling life of the river hidden within its deep gorge walls. As we started paddling this section more and more we felt a strong urge to try to share its beauty with the rest of the world. 2016 was not the first year that there was a race but it was the first year the city agreed to cooperate and release enough water for us to have a stout level over the falls. When the event blew up with popularity the city then agreed to put the Cuyahoga Falls Kayak Race on the calender and ensured us a realease every year on the same weekend for this event. When 2017 came around the race had grown even more. We had over 20 sponsors and over 50 competetors from 15 different states. The city fire department even stepped up and did their annual swift water training with kayakers on the falls along with puschasing a raft to take down on race day. With the help of an expirienced raft guide they did just that and gained a whole new respect for the rapids right in their town and also kayakers that run them on a regular basis. The local paddling community has also stepped up, investing as much time and money as possible to make sure race day is safe, organized, legal and fun for competitors and spectators. The Cuyahoga Falls race course is about 1 mile long. The first third of the course is class II with fun waves and moves. With a board walk along the river so people are already cheering. The next third of the course is the meat. The first waterfall has a small 2ft diversion dam then small curling hole right into a fast slide with a kicker off the actual waterfall, we call this “roockie drop” because most of the time it auto-boofs you. The next waterfall has a few holes in the lead in, about a 10ft drop you can boof on the right or take the “staircase” line on the left then a really fun exit rapid we call the “jumble.” This is the most exciting part of the course, for the rapids and also because this is where the Sheraton Suits hotel is. The river has a huge Sheraton Suits hotel towering over the falls offering epic spectating from your room, restaurant or just from the balcany, and the crowd gets thrilled!! The last section after the falls is remotely quiet though due tobits beautiful, deep gorge, one of the deepest ive seen in Ohio. This year we are going to have a time trials race; short boat or long boat, a slalom course, boaterX and possibly more. I personally think this year will be the best one yet. Its reallu cool to just mention it to people and see them get reallu excited about this new event on our home river.

– Tommy Piros