September 21 ... and another glorious day to be racing on the Gauley! As folks began to arrive at the tailwaters there were the usual smiles and hugs, it's almost a reunion for the Gauley Race crew. With perfect weather in the forecast it would be a great day to be on the river. We have a few regulars that have been there so many years - it's always good to see their faces. When it was all said and done, the Fastest Woman on the Gauley and many time Gauley Race champion would be Adrienne Levknecht with a great time of 54:45. The overall Fastest Man this year on the Gauley and also a returning champ was Andrew McEwan. Andrew had an extremely fast time in a Wildwater boat - 44:12! This time, was within one second of the course record by - yep, Andrew. Congratulations to both the Fastest Woman and Man paddlers! There were also fast times posted by kayakers in the slalom/plastic category - Geoff Calhoun posted a time of 52:49 and Pat Keller had a time of 53:49, nice effort you guys! In the Composite/Slalom Mike Moore was up front with a time of 54:10 and Eric Nies at 56:11.
In the Raft Team category the Fastest Woman Team would be Team "Squirt Zone" with a time of 1:06:54- only 13 seconds ahead of the 2nd Women's Team "Julie Sutton" with a time of 1:07:07! Moving over to the Men, Fastest Man Team would be Team "Maravia" with a time of 1:04:28. Only 9 seconds back in the Men's Team category was Team "Wing" with a time of 1:04:37. That is what racing is all about!! I heard it said several times about individual head to head duals and one of the most experienced racers said "smoothest race ever...". That is music to my ears!
There were a few new changes in 2015 for the race too! One cool thing was the Beltbuckle prizes, yep, hand cast by Travis Cobb these beauties would be replacing the cup. They were really cool and a nice change for prizes. Also something different was we were using a timing company at Sweet's. Appalachian Timing Group offered to come in and give it a shot and it worked out great. Zeke Smith is a master at timing and his system worked flawlessly, even with a video backup. Thanks Zeke! Also different was I got to be at the dam and start the race. It has been many years since I have been there and started and I loved it! all of those kayaks did start together and we were synced with Zeke at the finish even though we had no communications. All the raft teams started together too - everything on schedule and without a hitch. It was awesome to see the start - just wish I had a camera for it. Maybe next time... Which brings me to the last change. 2015 was my last year as the Race Director for the Animal Upper Gauley Race. It has been an amazing journey - a river trip that lasted 23 years. I've been honored to race with some of you and to meet so many amazing people through this endeavor. Thank you all - for the smiles and support over such a long time. Travis Cobb was on hand for the race and basically everything has been handed to him. I hope he finds it as rewarding as I have. He may want your help as he brings some of his ideas to the event. I think it is in good hands. Thanks again to you all my dear friends - I will be there cheering and laughing as always. Happy Paddling!