Fisherman’s Park on the Colorado River in Bastrop generally is a place where families gather, kids play on the splash pad or playscape, and others walk the winding sidewalks that run against the wide river. But both experts and novice river paddlers will gather at the docks for a 2 p.m. start of the 14th Annual 100 Mile Colorado River Canoe Race on Saturday, Sept. 2.
The race is a 24-hour competition that runs from Fisherman’s Park in Bastrop to the Columbus Beason’s Park with check points along the route. The full course is actually a 104-mile paddle, with the hardest leg being from La Grange to Columbus since the river current usually runs slower in this stretch with the last 6 miles picking up the pace. Some paddlers may opt for the alternative finish line in La Grange, a 62-mile distance from start to finish.
Lee Hall, the owner of Bastrop River Company and of this race, said that this race is good for all levels of paddlers since the Colorado River is generally a wide, slower river as compared to the San Marcos or Guadalupe Rivers. The main obstacle individuals or team paddlers encounter can be fatigue, heat, staying in the current, and bugs. But this year, competitors encounter a new twist---paddling much of the river’s course during the night hours.
Individuals and teams in categories including adventure and challenge groups compete for bragging rights and a trophy. Much of the motivation is intrinsic since few spectators gather other than the ground-support teams, in charge of switching out water for hydration, and a few family and friends.
Paddlers are expected to hit the course checkpoints by designated times or be eliminated. These checkpoints include Smithville boat ramp, 26 miles; Plum Park, 44 miles; La Grange, 62 miles; and Columbus, 104 miles. Competitors must race from start to finish. Hall said in the past, those not well conditioned either missed the check point times or just discontinued the race mid-stream.
For that reason, Bastrop River Company has offered training dates from mid-July through the end of August whereby paddlers are shuttled to and from various drop-off/take-out points along the river course to become familiar with the currents of those particular areas.
Hall, whose family paddled along the Colorado River in Columbus as he grew up, got involved with the 100 Mile Colorado River Canoe Race two years ago when he was approached about taking it on since he owned the Bastrop River Company. He said that he had an interest in the race because the Colorado River is underserved. He recognizes that paddling is a sport and that athletes thrive on competition. Additionally, the Colorado River 100 mission statement says that the experience raises environmental awareness of the water and lands of the Lower Colorado River.
Paddlers like the Colorado River 100 because some use it to test stamina leading up to the Texas Water Safari, a 260-mile competition in June that runs from the San Marcos River to the Gulf of Mexico.
Registration for the Colorado River 100 is still open. For rules, regulations, and registration see www.coloradoriver100.com. The event is sponsored by Bastrop River Company, LCRA Parks, Colorado River Alliance and Bastrop County.