2016 TVCC OCOEE RIVER RACE
The annual Ocoee Race has quickly become one of my favorite whitewater races. With excellent organization, great participation, 5 miles of fun whitewater, plenty of opportunities to train with friends leading up to the event, and knowing that your entry fee is helping a great cause, it’s easy to see why. 2016 was no exception. The Tennessee Valley Canoe Club (TVCC) did an impeccable job of managing the 152 starts on the countries busiest river, balancing the commercial launches with the pent up anxiety of racers eager to get going.
Wearing the number “1” bib as the defending long boat champion, I was first off knowing I’d have a bulls eye on my back. After dodging a few rafts I settled into my rhythm for the long race only made longer by the low water we’ve been experiencing all summer which would make it easy to scrub off speed in the shallows or by hitting too many rocks. I just kept pushing my Greenboat forwards, raising the tempo where the water would allow. Finishing my long boat run, I was happy with the effort and surprised to be close to the magical 30 minute mark. As the other competitors rolled in we compared times and played the last of our gamesmanship.
After a lengthy break to refuel and recover, it was time for the short boat race. I was paddling a Dagger prototype I’d only had a few weeks in, but felt comfortable it was as good as the faster production boats being used in the class. Being later in the day, there was a lot more river traffic and therefore over taking. I danced round a few raft trips without any major loss of time and ended up over taking about 10 other competitors as well. Rolling into the finish line completely tanked from two race runs, I forgot to stop my watch so really had no idea how I’d compare to the competition but knew I couldn’t have given it any more.
All said and done, I ended up defending my “Long Boat” title with a time of 30’17” and won the “Short Boat” class for the first time in 32’27”. I couldn’t have been more pumped to take a double win for the first time.
But the Ocoee Race’s ultimate celebration is that of the TVCC’s ability to organize this phenomenal event while raising money for a great cause, Team River Runner. The Ocoee Race is a true celebration of volunteerism, organization and activism and the TVCC should be lauded for their efforts.