Greenbrier River racers enjoy ideal conditions
Weather and water conditions were nearly perfect for the 25th annual Great Greenbrier River Race in Marlinton on Saturday. Temperatures were in the 70s during the race and the river water level was more than sufficient to keep boaters off the rocks.
The race includes a three-mile run, a four-mile boat paddle and a 10-mile bike ride. Four hundred and fifty individuals competed on teams and as individuals, a slightly lower turnout than last year's race, which was hampered by low water conditions.
By all accounts, the event went off without major problems and no racers were injured. Competitors praised the good organization and the hospitality they received while in Pocahontas County.
Roger Arthur, of Buffalo, was competing in his first Greenbrier River Race. A solo competitor, he completed all three legs of the race.
"I loved it," he said. "The water was great. I heard everybody talk about how much better the water was
this year because of the rain. The hospitality we received here was fantastic. Everybody received us with open arms."
Arthur and his son, Ron, were staying at the Locust Hill Bed and Breakfast.
Ron Arthur, of Winfield, said the event was more "laid back" than other races.
"I thought it was a great race," he said. "Everything was laid back and everybody seemed to have a good time. A lot of real good sportsmanship and all the people were real nice."
The younger Arthur said the river leg of the race was the toughest for him.
"I dumped my kayak over a couple times and that was fun," he said. "They said the water was a little bit cold and that was a lie - it was a whole lot cold. It just made it that much funner."
Both Arthurs said they wanted to return for next year's race.
A variety of organizations pull together to plan and execute the race every year, including the race committee, the Convention and Visitors Bureau, the Greenbrier River Trail State Park and the Town of Marlinton. This year, Marlinton Fire and Rescue supported the race and Lewisburg EMS provided a rescue boat on the river. Matt Dunz and Jamie Warner patrolled the river on jet skis to assist with any rescue, which fortunately was not necessary. Snowshoe Resort provided outdoor tables and race gates for the event. The Pocahontas County Amateur Radio Club established communications at four different stations. Marlinton town crews set up tents, trash cans and other facilities.
Marlinton Mayor Dennis Driscoll said conditions for the race were nearly perfect.
"It was absolutely great," he said. "The weather was almost perfect. It could have been a little bit warmer but it was close to being perfect. The water conditions were very, very good. They had come down considerably from what we had on Thursday, when we were having flooding."
The mayor expressed gratitude for the efforts of volunteers and rescue squads.
"As the mayor, I'd like to thank the fire and rescue for the job they did," he said. They brought in a swift river boat safety crew and they were on the river all the time that we had people on the river. It was very professional and well done. We had many comments from people who were out there - both the spectators and entrants - that they felt much safer."
The winners in the different classes were: solo male, Andrew Rose, 1:27:01; solo female, Suzanna Garrett, 1:36:15; solo male 50+, Tim Ligon, 1:32:05; solo female 50+, "SuprFli", 1:37:34; solo youth (16 and under), Ben Aulick, 1:46:36; team advantage, Wild Hare, 1:24:55; team male, Greenbrier Valley Quarterly, 1:22:19; team female, Wicked Fast Mamas, 1:34:29; team coed, Panicked Paddlers, 1:32:38; team family, Team Clay, 1:41:45; team 50+, Galactic Geezers, 1:39:36.
Full race results are available at www.iplayoutside.com.