A freak six-inch snowstorm in nearby Ashville, N.C., and record number of participants (165) didn’t stop Jackson Kayak’s Isaac Levinson from topping the podium in the coveted Long Boat Division for his second time at this year’s Green River Narrows Race, arguably one of the most heralded Class V races in the world. Nor did it hinder women’s champion Adriene Levknecht from winning her unprecedented sixth Green River race crown…
While the snow storm delayed the event’s traditional “high noon” start, and forced organizers to both make a last-minute location switch to the awards party and cancel the Ironman division where paddlers race both long and short boat categories, it didn’t dampen the spirits of racers or spectators hiking in to witness the action at marquee rapid Gorilla.
It was on that drop and others that Levinson proved he belongs among the race’s elite, alongside such names as Pat Keller, Andrew Holcombe and Tommy Hilleke, by winning the event for the first time since his inaugural victory in 2011. Levinson also has two seconds (2009 and 2010), a third (2012) and a fourth (2008) in the event. For the record, Hilleke has an unfathomable six wins, Keller three, and Mike Dawson and Holcombe two.
“Everyone who wins it is in a unique league,” says Levinson, who will bring the coveted stained glass trophy and 20-year-old, unwashed red adidas jersey home to the Northwest for the first time ever. “I’m proud of it, but all those other guys are great racers and there are a lot of really fast people who’ve never come to do it. Still, I’d love to try and get seven to unseat Tommy.”
It almost didn’t happen this time around, against three-time runner-up Dave Jackson. Jackson went in the second spot, followed by Levinson in the sixth, thanks to a crash last year at a rapid called Go Left. “It was actually kind of nice going then,” he says. “Going first or second is more stressful. Sometimes you catch up to the non-racing boaters who are still on the course.”
When he started, Jackson was just finishing the one-mile course. “I had a good understanding of how hard he and Keller started, so I came out paddling pretty hard,” he says.
In fact, he more or less mimicked Jackson stroke for stroke until the bitter end. At the end of the course, it came down to the wire, or at least the fourth and final stop watch. Three out of the four stop watches showed times for both at 4:19 in a dead tie. It came down to the fourth stop watch showing 4:20 for Jackson to give the win to Levinson.
“It was a pretty crazy outcome,but I’m stoked,” says Levinson, who’s sponsored by Jackson Kayaks, Kokatat, GalaSport Paddles and Sweet Helmets. “I’m really psyched to watch our Go-Pro runs side by side to see where the time actually was.”
He’ll have a chance to best Jackson again in Chiapas, Mexico, in an upcoming waterfall and boatercross race. In the meantime, he’s happily taking the trophy home
“Nobody form the Northwest has ever taken it back there,” he says. “It should be pretty fun.”
In the short boat division, Nick Troutman took home top honors, followed by Dave Fusilli and Scott Harcke. Jackson paddler Alex Voorhees won the Junior Division.
Men’s Long K-1:
1. Isaac Levinson
2. Dane Jackson
3. Pat Keller
Men’s Short K-1:
1. Nick Troutman
2. Dave Fusilli
3. Scott Harcke
1. Adriene Levknecht
2. Katie Dean
3. Mary Katherine Fields
Complete results: CLICK HERE