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Paddling: Best river races, from the hokey to the hardcore

PaddlingBack to the Chattahoochee Race
June 13, Atlanta, Ga.
Canoes, kayaks, floats, and rafts paddle a portion of the ‘Hooch north of Atlanta to raise awareness for water quality issues plaguing this urban gem. Competitive boaters tackle a 10-mile course, and an eight-mile course is set for those interested only in having a good time. Prizes are won for best costume and boat decoration, so be creative.

Animal Upper Gauley Race
September 19, Hico, W.Va.
For experts only, the Animal takes boaters through some of the best whitewater in the Southeast. 100 boaters push it for 10 miles, some in slalom kayaks, some in open boats, others in fun-loving rafts with team names like “F@&k Yeah.” It’s one of the hairiest downriver sprints in the country, and it’s capped off with a finish over Sweet’s Falls, a 10-foot drop that’s responsible for massive carnage in front of hoards of onlookers.

James River Runoff Rundown
July 11, James River, Va.
Is it possible to paddle all 340 miles of the James River in a single day? It is if you have a lot of friends chipping in. In a single day, fans of the James River ban together, each paddling separate sections of the famous river in order to raise money and awareness for water quality issues. Any human-powered watercraft is kosher. Last year, some participants even paddled their section in inner tubes.

Cheat Canyon river Race
May 1, 2010, Albright, W.Va.
Boaters sprint through 10 miles of whitewater including infamous rapids like Big Nasty and Coliseum in the largest whitewater race in the country. It’s particularly fun for spectators, as the Cheat Race features the rare mass start, in which 150 boaters, most of them in long slalom boats, jockey for position in the first seconds of the race.

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