Perhaps the single most famous, most respected, and most competitive creek race on the planet, the annual Green Race remains a fabulous and homespun little affair held each Fall on the steepest section of western North Carolina's Green River Narrows. Local boaters train here for much of the year due to the reliable flows, and people come from literally around the world to compete. More than five hundred friends and family members either hike or paddle in to watch and cheer on every racer, scattering themselves along the river's boulders and bedrock near the photogenic signature rapid called Gorilla -- a.k.a. "The Monkey" -- heart and soul of the entire run.

Looming larger than life in any paddler's mind, the Green Race is -- save for a few individuals -- largely not about winning. It's more about having clean lines and a safe run, making a personal best time, beating (or losing to) a friend by a few seconds, and simply participating in such a unique event and the fine community that surrounds it all. And yet to date, in nineteen years, with perhaps several thousand people having navigated and portaged themselves down the Green in total, only 598 people have entered the race.

Some of the well-known dangers found on the Narrows are mentioned in this waiver that all racers must agree to and sign prior to entering. For example .... "lacerations" .... "impalement" .... "extensive dental damage" .... and my personal favorite: "I have been warned of the stupidity of this activity". So yeah, sure, Class V, but not just skills does it take; rather, a sense of courage more than the rest of us have -- have we the skills or not.

The Green Race began in 1996 and has been scheduled to start at 12 noon on the first Saturday in November ever since. Racers start from the river right side of the long pool below Bride of Frankenstein and finish about five minutes and one half of a miracle mile later on the river left side of the pool below Rapid Transit. The racers take off in one minute intervals, starting with long boats (the "open" division -- anything goes), then short boats under 9', with the known racers seeded to keep passing to a minimum.

Initially born from a conversation between friends during a Gauley shuttle drive nineteen years ago, Leland Davis then organized the first Green Race, and kept them running through 2002. Jason Hale, also in from the beginning, took over in 2003 and has been the main front-man since then. The race "actually happens" because of a lot of people, chief among them being John Grace -- as well as a rotating cast of characters who help with timing, food, details, etc. Additionally, Chris Bell has collected all the prior years' results into one clickable and sortable database (linked above), and is now handling online registration on his boatingbeta site.

As an aside, please note that American Whitewater is in no way a sponsor, organizer, sanctioner, or anything else related to the race -- save for most local AW members being pretty fired up about it. This page is just a collection of far-flung information pulled together into one place, designed to answer the random Green Race trivia question and help you kill time until you're out paddling again.

Hiking Directions and Page of Maps

Green River Narrows Race John Grace's official Green Race page, featuring all the LVM archival footage, podcasts, updates, and more. Also, Facebook now has a Green Race page.

Race Reports from Blogs and Websites

Newspaper and Magazine Articles

Photo Albums

Video Clips

"Class Five Certified"
The 94 Person Sub 5-minute Honor Roll:

Drew Austell Nate Elliot DJ Jacobson Billy Murphy
Joe Barkley John Grace Chan Jones Jared Seiler
Jason Beakes Keegan Grady Billy Jones Jesse Shimrock
Shane Benedict Chris Gragtmans Pat Keller Nathan Silsbee
Geoff Calhoun Al Gregory Brian Kirk Paul Stamilio
Jules Campbell Nik Haase Brian Knight Daniel Stewart
Riley Cathcart Jason Hale Isaac Levinson Eric Strittmatter
Caleb Coaplen Chris Harjes Adriene Levknecht Rob Tompkins
Fergus Coffey Adam Herzog Toby MacDermott Nick Troutman
Mike Dawson Tommy Hilleke Dustin Marquart Corey Volt
Eric Deguil Andrew Holcombe Pablo McCandless Bo Wallace
Tad Dennis Eric Hurd Scott McClusky Clay Wright
Drew Duval Dane Jackson Michael Montagne Chris Young
. . . .
Louis Geltman Severin Haberling Mark Taylor Jesse Wilensky
Joel Kowalski Darren Albright Vavrinec Hradilek Ryan Dekay
Dave Herman David Cohen Chris Stafford Gerd Serrasolses
Hunt Jennings Kyle Hull Kelly Jordan Jake Greenbaum
Katrina Van Wijk Dave Fusilli Stephen McGrady Will Rudisell
Ben Fraker Matt Anger Jakub Nemec Bradley McMillan
Cooper Sallade Jess Albright Clay Lucas Galen Volckhausen
Jordan Poffenberger Derek DelBuono Wade Harrison Andrew McKewan
Colin Hunt Cameron Thacker Alec Vorhees Michael Welch
Robert Waldron Aaron Mann Bernie Engelman Wyatt Hyndman
Ryan McAvoy Taylor Coffer . .
(teach me to alphabetize this table, i'm a moron)

Full-length Films

Image of The Green Race Movie DVD.
  • The Green Race Movie (2007) Chris Gallaway's fine film about the history and challenge of the Green Race, as well his own efforts to train and compete in 2006. Chris' movie won Best Whitewater Film at the 2008 Reel Paddling Film Festival, as well as Best Documentary and Best of Show at the 2008 National Paddling Film Festival.

LVM Back Issues Featuring the Green Race

Image of Lunch Video Magazine DVD cover.

Issued quarterly for years, Lunch Video Magazine was your Asheville-based source for the good shit worldwide. Often filmed close to home, too, with plenty of Green Race footage through the years. Relevant Back Issues: 1, 3, 7, 11, 14, 18, 21, 25, 29....? Some are still available in groups at

Other Video

Image of Playin' in the Back Yard DVD cover.
  • Playin' In The Backyard (2000) Leland Davis' full-length video devoted to the entire Narrows, including a rapid-by-rapid breakdown and a separate section about the Green Race. Most of the footage shot in 1997/98, and included in the extras is a Pat Keller helmet cam of the race course (fast run).

...hrrmph, those lines seem way too far apart now... :)

The 2017 Winners
Division Paddler Time
Open Eric Deguil
Women Adrienne Levknecht
Short Boat -- --
Hand Paddles -- --
C1 -- --
OC1 -- --
Ironman -- --
Course Records
Division Paddler Time Year
Open Mike Dawson 4:10 2012
Women Adrienne Levknecht 4:38 2015
Short Boat Mike Dawson 4:30 2012
Hand Paddles Bill Clipper 5:07 2011
C1 Ben Fraker 4:47 2013
OC1 Jordan Poffenberger 7:06 2012
Ironman Mike Dawson 8:40 2012
Open Class Winners by Year
Year Winner Time Boat
1996 Clay Wright 4:57 Pyrahna Mtn. 300
1997 Jason Hale 5:13 Prijon Tornado
1998 Jason Hale 5:04 Prijon Tornado
1999 Tommy Hilleke 5:03 Prijon Tornado
2000 Al Gregory 4:59 Pyranha Master
2001 Tommy Hilleke 4:42 Prijon Tornado
2002 Tommy Hilleke 4:49 Prijon Tornado
2003 Tommy HIlleke 4:42 Prijon Tornado
2004 Tommy Hilleke 4:35 Prijon Tornado
2005 Tommy Hilleke 4:34 Prijon Tornado
2006 Pat Keller 4:36 Dagger Green
2007 Andrew Holcombe 4:27 Dagger Green
2008 Pat Keller 4:31 Dagger Green
2009 Andrew Holcombe 4:18 Dagger Green
2010 Mike Dawson 4:26 LL Stinger
2011 Isaac Levinson 4:22 LL Stinger
2012 Mike Dawson 4:10 LL Stinger
2013 Pat Keller 4:14 Dagger Green
2014 Isaac Levinson 4:19 Jackson Karma Unlimited
2015 Dane Jackson, Eric Deguil (tie) 4:13 Karma Unlimited, Stinger
Participation by Year
Year Total Women Ironmen
1996 16
1997 21 4
1998 25 1
1999 39 1
2000 37 1
2001 64 3
2002 65 5
2003 57 4 1
2004 8
2005 75 3 5
2006 116 6 9
2007 105 6 18
2008 92 3 9
2009 126 6 21
2010 136 6 22
2011 120 4 24
2012 153 5 32
2013 121 4 24
2014 164 7 canceled
2015 -- -- --
Fisheye image of boats and competitors before Green Race.

Green Race Fun Facts

  • Most years raced: Jason Hale, 18, Tommy Hilleke, 17
  • Oldest Green racer: Jerry Jascomb, 57, in 2011
  • First Ironman: Glenn LaPlante (Long and Short boats), 11:40, 2003
  • First Superman: Paul Stamilio (Long, Short, Handpaddles), 16:48, 2007
  • Total number of racers in 19 years: 598
  • Number of men who have raced: 566
  • Number of women who have raced: 32
  • Number of people sub 5 minutes: 94
  • Total number of race runs: 1714
  • Number of first-timers, past seven years: 35, 51, 45, 34, 54, 39, 60
  • Avg. % of first-timers in past seven years of races: 34%
  • Number of people who have raced 10 or more years: 13
  • Fastest average time of the 10-year racers: John Grace, 4:49
  • Release Levels: 100% .... ( '04 @ 250%, '07 @ drought special 2x60%, '08 @ low drought 100%, '12 @ 12", '15 @ 11" )
  • Actual length of race: Real close to .55 miles

Messing About in Green Boats

A host of old school long boats were used over the years in attempts to win or place well in the Green Race. Many are still paddled competitively. Since 2006 five separate limited edition boats have been designed with the Green Race specifically in mind.

Prijon Tornado -- The workhorse of winning boats for years, having won 8 out of 19 races to date. Made from 1995-2000(?) and now out of production, coveted, and hard to find --- with the aluminum mold lying in disrepair outside some German factory --- the Tornado will become a relic.

Dagger Green Boat -- Introduced in 2006 and a Pat Keller/Snowy Robertson design, the Green Boat has now won five races and became available commercially in March 2008 -- leading to 32 of the 60 long boats in the 2008 race being Dagger Green Boats! (More on the Green Boat here and here).

Wavesport Momentum -- A Robert Peerson design in 2006...(more soon...a photo linkie perhaps?). Did not become commercially available.

Liquid Logic Remix 100 -- Local designer Shane Benedict's offering, out just in time for the 2007 race. Here is his description of the process he used to build it, some pictures of the first runs, and one other nice photo. Only about 8 of these boats were made.

Liquid Logic Remix Stinger -- Shane Benedict's speed machine, which debuted at the 2009 race. Here's the story and some pics, an early production video and a post-race Stinger stand-up. These crafts became available commercially in the Summer of 2013, and here's a nice October 2013 retrospective.

Jackson Karma Unlimited -- Jackson's new longboat, out in time for the Fall 2013 race season, including five boats showing at the Green. Dane Jackson, at Gorilla here, has two strong second place finishes in his (here's a pre-race training video), and Isaac Levinson won the 2014 race in his. The Karma Unlimited may go in to commercial production (?).

American Whitewater logo

....What? You're not a
member? How could you?
Sign up here.

The Ten Count

Thirteen people have
run the Green Race
for at least ten years:

Eric Chance
Caleb Coaplan
John Grace
Chris Gragtmans
Jason Hale
Eli Helbert
Tommy Hillike
Pat Keller
Keith Sprinkle
Bo Wallace
Jeff West
Clay Wright
Chris Young

More Green Stuff

  • First Full Descent: Tom Visnius & John Kennedy, November 1988.
  • Fastest Top-to-Bottom time: Jerry's Baddle, March 2007, Toby McDermott & Chris Gragtmans (tie). This was a year when the kayak portion ended at Fishtop, not at the campground like it does now.
  • Most laps in a day: 11, (Zach Fraysier, Jeff West), August 2011, blog post, and 10 (West, Shanin, Bowman), July 2006, AW Journal.
  • Early (1990) AW Journal "Two-Gallon River" (Callaway, Koll).
  • Most major rapids can be viewed here in a video promo for "Locals Only", this one featuring Chris Gragtmans.

2013 pic from above the Monkey

This page was created in the Spring of 2007 by: John Pilson, Asheville, NC. To find me for additions or corrections: johnpilson at the gmail
Author: John Pilson   Location: @Green 2. Green Narrows, NC
Subject: Green Race  Rapid: The Important Ones
Date: 10/27/09  Level: high runnable
Size: 406.00B  Format: jpeg
AW Photo ID: 18557   AW Reach ID:
author of photo John Pilson Details