Plan a race on your trail

For eleven years running local paddlers in the Columbia, SC area hold a whitewater race, well actually two races, on the first non-holiday Saturday of the year. The races, the Millrace Massacre and the Ice Man are held on the Saluda River immediatly upstream of the beginning of the Congaree River Blue Trail.

The races are a lot of fun and participation has increased every year. In fact, in recent years, the race has attracted regional pros from throughout the southeast. The Ice Man is the centerpiece of the event and it is a race like none other. Racers start above a large class III-IV rapid called Millrace, they paddle through the rapid, through another rapid then through some flatwater to a bridge about 1/4 mile downstream, then they turn around paddle back upstream, get out of their boats, run their boat up a portage trail and run millrace again, they then have to pop out of their boats and swim through a small rapid below Millrace called Pop Up Hole to complete the race — in the beginning of January!

Races like the Ice Man bring exposure to the river and build support for river protection within the community. These same local paddlers are planning a distance race on the Congaree River Blue Trail. The race will extend the entire 50 miles of the trail and will most likely be done in two sections with an overnight stop and great South Carolina BBQ on one of the trails giant sandbars.

If you have a blue way or water trail in your area, consider holding a race. They are effective ways to raise money, they can be a forum to educate the public on river issues, they connect new people to the river and most of all they are fun! For information on insurance and liability please visit the American Canoe Association’s website at