Back to the Chattahoochee

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Entering one of the many fun small rapids on the Chattahoochee.

sidebar-website-mapThe “Back to the Chattahoochee” is an incredibly well executed race and festival organized and presented by Chattahoochee Riverkeeper (CRK) in partnership with the National Park Service and the city of Roswell. The event is organized to celebrate the Chattahoochee and foster a sense of community around the river that serves 3.5 million Georgians and 70% of metro Atlantans.

The race begins at Garrard Landing Park on Holcomb Bridge Road and includes competitive and recreational categories for kayaks, canoes and stand up paddle boards. This 8 mile course includes exciting class I-II rapids and concludes at Riverside Park, the site of the free family-friendly festival, music and awards presentation with proceeds going to support CRK’s mission to protect and preserve the Chattahoochee River system for the people and wildlife that depend upon it.

Every time I do this race, I am taken aback by the stunning beauty of this Chattahoochee river corridor, especially given its proximity to metro Atlanta. The cool Chattahoochee water was shrouded by a light fog as the days temperature climbed but the abundant wildlife was easily spotted. I counted nearly a dozen Heron and saw a plethora of turtles warming themselves on riverside logs. Fish jumped in the eddies and other birds hunted them for breakfast, all as I paddled by.

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This years race lacked some of the usual fast folks but still had over 350 participants. The first wave off is usually the most competitive and I lined up next to perennial competitor Richard Carter in his Epic 18x and former National Wildwater Team members, Martin Bay and John Pinyerd in there matching Wenonah marathon canoes. At the sound of the gun we started sprinting downstream and vanished into the low hanging river fog. Richard and I dropped the canoes quickly and I then cracked him shortly there after, leaving me to compete against my stopwatch for a solid time. The race was largely uneventful with the exception of a few rescue boats motoring too quickly upstream out of the fog towards me and I finished in a new personal best on this course of 56’ 20”.

Complete results can be found here.

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