The Robe Race is a two person team race from the rapid T2 to the pool below the rapid Mrs. Robinson. This roughly 3.6 mile race covers around 43 rapids (depending on water levels) and one arduous portage over a landslide. The race course forces you to paddle all out, as hard as you can, through 14 class V rapids, 21 Class IV rapids and 9 laid back class III's. The largest hole is also one of the last ledges you run after about a half hour of charging. Always fun to look forward to...
As Spring flows here in Washington can be hard to predict, you have to keep events like this mobile. You can't lock into a specific weekend without running the risk of dooming the event to either high or low water.
The week prior to the race saw river levels all over the place; from the low side of the spectrum in the 5.3 foot range, all the way up to the 6.5 foot range.
There's more than enough beta on Robe Canyon on this blog so I will dispense with any descriptions of the run other than this: Robe Canyon is rewarding but can punish with impunity.
With sun beating down on us, we rolled into the takeout about 45 minutes late. But, as we had the defending Champion Scott Waidelich with us, we did not fall into the normal social constraints pertaining to timely arrivals.
Moods and ambiant temperatures were soaring by the time we consolidated gear, boats and bodies for the short drive up to the putin. The hike down the trail was definitly unique for me. This is a run that I know so well, but I had never raced up to this point. A lot can happen when you are exerting yourself. A lot can go wrong when you're pushing. A lot can happen when there is an audience eager for carnage and the river has provided a level that is conducive to to hair boating.
Robe was sitting just over 5.9 feet on the online gage. This is a pretty healthy level and not a volume of water to take lightly. At 5.9' the lines get a little bit cleaner, the holes get bigger and the boofs pad out like a sophmore in a sorrorety.
By bigger holes I mean massive holes (for this guy at least).
I think I learned a lot from this race. I learned that my lines are not as clean as I thought they were. I learned that I let go of my paddle a lot. I also learned that I have a lot to work on. But I'm stoked to have been part of the race.
Robe Race 2013 results:
1st Place at 25:41 - Darren Albright & Andrew McEwan
2nd Place at 27:01 - Scott Waidelich & Ben Hawthorne
3rd Place at 28:37 - Fred Norquist & Eric Parker
4th Christian Knight & Brock Gavery 31:17 (not really mortals, but they pretended)
5th Dan Patrinellis & Jeremy Bisson 34:10
6th Alex Podolak & William Griffith 34:28
7th Leif Embertson & Chris Totten finished
8th Sean/Mike DNF
While it's still being verified; Darren and Andrew set a new course record for time. In 25 minutes and 41 seconds, these two guys charged through 3.6 miles of class V whitewater and completed a grueling quarter mile portage that takes a normal crew and hour and a half to finish on a "fast" lap. Well done.
Jah Bisson came up to race with me and while I feel bad that I killed his time; I had a great time racing with him. We both took helmet cam footage so keep on the lookout for a quick edit in the upcoming weeks.
One of the fun traditions of the Robe Race is the Robe Gnome.
The last place finisher wins the ultimate prize and gets to take this guy around with them throughout the year on their boating adventures. This year Sean Lee and Mike Nash took home a third teammate.
Huge thanks to Leif Embertson out of Bellingham, WA. Leif organized the Robe Race and even brought us cold beer for the takeout. Stand up guy in my books. Massive props to Shauna Hawthorne and Joni Randall for keeping time for all of the racers; this wouldn't have happened without volunteer help.
Until next year!
Many thanks (again) to the volunteers who came out and made this race possible.
Thanky you Irene Nash for grabbing some photos of the race for me.
Its not often that we get photos as good as some of these of our boating escapades. All of the amazing photos on this trip report are curtesy of yo_tuco from Flickr. You can check out more of his amazing photography on his Flickr account HERE