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Pit 5 Race

September 10 marked the second year of the Pit 5 race, a fun grassroots race in northern California on a really fantastic section of III/IV.


Section 5 of the Pit River sits right outside the town of Big Bend, which is about 45 minutes east of Redding. It’s about a 4.5 mile stretch starting just below a dam ending at the takeout, a bridge that crosses over the river in the town of Big Bend. This was the course this year.

After completing a lap and showing some friends the race lines, we rallied up to the campground. I ran over to the put in to give the safety meeting. At the meeting, I asked the racers what format they would like to have the race be, and after a few minutes of thinking, we all decided to make the race a mass start team race. As everyone started breaking up into their groups, I decided that I was also going to race. Because there was an odd number of racers, I decided to not join a team.

I had the safety team head downstream, had my dad agree to be the starter, and I began to get the racers in the water. As we paddled across the pool, racers were goading each other, talking smack, and laughing. I smiled to myself. This is why I set the race up. I wanted to bring paddlers together to compete and bond, to have fun. We got to the starting area, and after a few seconds, the hat dropped and we were off.

The race starts with a flat water paddle that is a few hundred yards long. People were bumping into each other, laughing, and sprinting to the jungle, a constricted rapid that is about a boat width long in it’s narrowest spot. I dropped into the jungle in 3rd place, with a huge clump of racers right behind me. After exiting the jungle, I began to sprint through the next section of flat water to catch up to the leaders. Right before the hardest rapid on the course, I made a move and took the lead. We were all really close to each other.


The race continued for about 4 miles after that point, and the teams began to settle in and work together. They were encouraging each other, telling their teammate to keep pushing, and making sure that they were being safe while they wee charging downstream.


As I turned the corner into the last rapid and saw the finish line, I breathed a sigh of relief and began the final sprint. I was lucky enough to be the first to cross the finish line under the bridge, and as I turned around, I saw the coolest things. Racers were still laughing,  trying to get ahead of one another, and pushing to the line. the-winner-comming-under-the-bridge

This year, the Pit 5 race had to have been one of my highlights. I cannot wait to start planning for next year. Huge congrats to Will Boyer and Elijah Sobel, Darin Mcquaid and Jay Lynn, and Garrett Pinkley and Boone Bates for being the podium finishers in the team race. Huge thanks to my safety team, Gary Pinkley and Rocco Russo, and my dad for being official starter. And special thanks to Alex Colvin for the images.

See yinz out there next year!