Even with pandemic restrictions in place (i.e. no rager blowout party at nearby Rancho del Rio this year), AW’s classic downriver race through Gore Canyon of the Colorado River went off without a hitch August 28, with racers registering online as the only other major change.
While youngsters stole the podium from the old guard, perhaps the biggest story line was one of prodigy, with children from the likes of longtime competitors Tommy Hilleke and Aaron Pruzan showing that they have what it takes to step up and race the coveted Class V crown jewel.
At flows of a relatively benign (and semi-flushy in Tunnel Falls) 1,150 cfs, in the junior division Kelly Hilleke finished in 23:45, just behind winner Connor Gaglinano at 22:36, with brother Daniel Hilleke not far behind at 24:06. (dad Tommy, BTW, finished at 38:14, stopping en route after what he called “one of the worst swims in my life at Gore Rapid”).
Nate and Noah Pruzan, meanwhile, sons of Jackson Hole’s Rendezvous Sports owner and longtime expedition boater Aaron Pruzan, finished at 24:30 and 28:21, respectively, with Nate just a few minutes behind pops.
In the main men’s event, it was a longboat and short boat trifecta for Cody Beach, Riley Frank and Mat Dumoulin, with Beach taking first at 20:43 with the day’s best time, only to shuttle back up and take second in short boats and fifth overall at 21:41. Frank finished second at 20:57, going back up to win the short division at 21:35, with DuMoulin taking third overall at 20:57.4, only to go back up at finish shorties at 21:44.
For the women, it was Avery Potter nailing first at 24:14, followed by Jessa Hutchins at 25:24 and Else Kelley at 25:26.
For the rafters, it was Blazing Paddles in first at 27:14 with minimal carnage, followed by Elk Mountain at 27:26.
All entrants were registered for a free boat give-away in the raffle after.
“We did it — it was another awesome Gore Race in the books,” said organizers, who gathered virtually Tuesday evening for a quick stewardship update and to draw names for AW’s membership drawing. “Many thanks to our safety crew and all the racers. We can’t wait for next year.”