James River Water Levels

Westham Gauge
Gauge Height: 4.96'
Flow: 4700 cfps

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Posted In: James River, Paddling

JRA unveils 100-mile river race

April 28, 2014 3:26pm

A new endurance race is coming to Virginia and it promises to be quite a challenge. The James River Rundown will be one of the longest paddling races in the United States, covering 100 miles of the scenic James River over a two-day period from June 20-21, 2014.

Competitors will traverse the river in kayaks, canoes, rafts and paddleboards, either as solo paddlers or in teams. There are no restrictions on what they paddle, just as long as there is no motor, sail, or anchored oar configuration and participants reach the finish line within the 40 -hour cutoff.

rrhheaderweeblyThe race begins at James River State Park in Gladstone and ends 100 miles later at the American Legion boat ramp just past Robious Landing Park in Richmond. Designated checkpoints will be set up along the way, offering paddlers a chance to rest or camp.

The James River Rundown committee is chaired by Kevin Odberg who was inspired to organize the event after participating in the Missouri River 340. “The real goal of this race is to create a fun challenge and spread an appreciation for the river and the James River Association that works to protect it,” said Odberg. “Finishing a race like this creates a sense of pride and camaraderie along with a real connection to the river.”

Race dates correspond with the Summer Solstice, which means paddlers will have the most amount of daylight of the year, giving them ample time to paddle without having to do so in the dark. The course is on a stretch of the James River that does not have any dams, portages or tough rapids.

That does not mean, however, that this will be easy race. At the beginning of the course, participants will fight winding river and low water levels with occasional hang-ups and rocks ready to stop their craft. The second half of the course is smoother but by then the fatigue, heat, and muscle pain will be the biggest foe.

A tube will probably not win you the James River Rundown this summer.

A tube will probably not win you the James River Rundown this summer.

“We want this race to appeal to a wide variety of paddlers and be a fun event for everyone,” said Bill Street, CEO of the James River Association. “The James River Rundown will be a great showcase for recreation on the river, but safety is always a top priority, so there will be plenty of checkpoints, camping spots and safety boats along the course.

The family-friendly after party at the finish line should cure paddler’s weariness by offering live music and beverages from Hardywood Park Craft Brewery.

About Andy Thompson

I was the Outdoors Columnist at the Times-Dispatch from 2007 to 2013, writing twice a week about mountain biking, fishing, hunting, paddling and much more. I live a 1/4 mile from the James River, close enough to see bald eagles soaring over my house on their way to find a meal. Pretty cool, eh?