About This List –
Making a list like this is a very subjective undertaking. My first criteria for the list is that the race must be an active event. There have been many epic, long-distance paddling races that have come and gone. A lot of logistics go into setting up an ultra-distance event. That is why I have included bi-annual races. Secondly – The event must be a viable race. That means entry fees, recorded times and awards.
The next problem I faced in putting together this list is weighing the length of the race against the difficulty of the course. Rapids, portages and navigational challenges boosted a couple of races higher in the rankings. And on any given year, weather can turn an ultra-distance event into an exercise in survival.
Also, how do you compare non-stop races to stage races? While you may be only racing four or five hours a day, the intensity level is very high. It’s really “apples and oranges,” but both belong on the list.
After publishing the “Top 20” list earlier in 2014, I was contacted by several race organizers who wanted their events added to the list. Rather than eliminate any events, I decided to expand the list. The total mileage of the 25 races adds up to 5,723 miles. As a racer who enjoys paddling on “new” water, I’m pleased that my “to do” list seems to be getting longer. The titles of the races I have completed are shown in green.- Rod Price
1. WaterTribe Ultimate Florida Challenge (1,200 miles) – March 2016 (bi-annual) – Small boat race that circumnavigates the state of Florida including the St. Marys and Suwannee Rivers with a connecting 40 mile portage. Racers have 30 days to complete the challenge. Check out the next Ultimate Florida Challenge at Watertribe’s website…
2. Yukon 1000 – July 2016 (bi-annual) – Canoe and kayak race from Whitehorse, Yukon Territory – Canada to the Dalton Hwy., Alaska – USA. Racers must camp six hours each day. Check out yukon1000.com
3. WaterTribe Everglades Challenge (300 miles) – March 2015 – Small boat race from Ft. Desoto to Key Largo, Florida. Weather and navigational issues can easily turn this challenge into a nightmare. Check out the next Everglades Challenge at Watertribe’s website
4. Texas Water Safari (260 miles) – June 2015 – Canoe and kayak race from San Marcos to Seadrift, Texas. Rapids, portages and fierce competition put this classic in the top five. Click here to read Rod’s detailed account of the 2014 Texas Water Safari.
5. Yukon River Quest (444 miles) – June 2015 – Canoe and kayak race from Whitehorse to Dawson City, Yukon Territory – Canada. Two mandatory breaks – seven and three hours each. Check out the next Yukon River Quest at yukonriverquest.com
6. Missouri River 340 – July 2015 – Canoe, kayak and SUP race from Kansas City to St. Charles, Missouri. This race comes down to speed and stamina. A competent ground crew is vital to doing well. Check out the Missouri 340 at rivermiles.com
7. WaterTribe North Carolina Pamlico Challenge (300 miles) – Sept. 2014 – Small boat race that starts and ends at Cedar Island, North Carolina. This event was cancelled in 2013 due to several days of high winds. Once it is held, the race will probably move up the list. Read all about the NC Pamlico Challenge
8. WaterTribe OkoumeFest Challenge (210 miles) – May 2015 – This expedition small boat race starts on Kent Island, MD, and heads southward into the Chesapeake Bay before returning to Kent Island. Check out all the info on the WaterTribe OkoumeFest Challenge
9. Michigan State University Campus to Coast Canoe and Kayak Race (160 miles) – April 2015 – This race starts on the Red Cedar River, continures into the Grand River, and ends at Lake Michigan. Get all the info on the Campus to Coast Canoe and Kayak Race
10. AuSable River Canoe Marathon (120 miles) – July 2015 – Canoe race from Grayling to Oscoda, Michigan. Part of the Triple Crown of canoe racing with the fastest canoes and the fittest paddlers. Check out the Ausable Canoe Marathon
11. La Ruta Maya Belize River Challenge (170 miles) – March 2015 – Canoe race from San Ignacio to Belize City, Belize. Three-person 20-foot canoes compete in this four-day stage race. All the info is at larutamayabelize.com
12. La Classique International Canoe Race (120 miles) – August 2014 – Canoe race from La Tuque to Trois-Rivieres, Quebec. This three-day stage race is another Triple Crown event and features world class competition. Read about La Classique International Canoe Race
13. Colorado River 100 – August 2014 – Not to be confused with the mighty Colorado River of the southwest, this non-stop Texas river race runs from Bastrop to Columbus, TX. Note: The 2014 race has been shortened to 100 kilometers because of drought conditions. Get more info on the Colorado River 100
14. James River Rundown (100 miles) – June 2015 – Non-stop canoe, kayak, and SUP race from Gladstone to Richmond, VA. Read all about the James River Rundown
15. California 100 – May 2015 – From Redding to Chico, CA on the Sacramento River. This race serves as a fundraiser for “Rivers for Change” and is open to all paddle craft. Check out the California 100 website
16. Tour du Teche (135 miles) – Oct. 2014 – This Louisiana canoe, kayak and pirogue race takes place on the Bayou Courtableau and Atchafalaya River over three days. Check out the Tour du Teche website
17. WaterTribe North Carolina Challenge (90 miles) – Sept. 2014 – Circular course that starts and ends at Cedar Island, North Carolina. There’s nothing like an expedition race at the Outer Banks. Check out the next North Carolina Challenge on Watertribe’s website
18. Muskoka River X (77 miles) – Sept. 2014 – Unsupported expedition canoe, kayak and SUP race featuring 19 portages. Huntsville, Ontario – Canada Read about the Muskoka River X
19. General Clinton (70 miles) – May 2015 – Canoe and kayak race on the Susquehanna River from Cooperstown to Bainbridge, New York. The first leg of the Triple Crown that has multiple classes for the elite and the average paddler. More info at http://www.canoeregatta.org/
20. Adirondack Canoe Classic (90 miles) – Sept. 2014 – Canoe, kayak and SUP race through the lakes and rivers among the Adirondack Mountains from Old Forge to Saranac Lake. This is a three-day stage race that has over five and a half miles of portages. Check out the Adirondack Canoe Classic
21. Volunteer 80 – April 2015 – Canoe, kayak and SUP race from Knoxville to the Tellico Dam on the Tennessee River. Get more info on the Volunteer 80
22. South Dakota Kayak Challenge (72 miles) – May 2015 – Canoe and kayak race from Yankton, South Dakota to Sioux City, Iowa on the Missouri River. Get all the info on the South Dakota Kayak Challenge
23. WaterTribe OkoumeFest (64 miles) – May 2015 – Small boat race on Chesapeake Bay starting and finishing at Matapeake State Park on Kent Island, Maryland. Get more info on the WaterTribe OkoumeFest
24. Missouri River Freedom Race (63 miles) – June 2015 – Billed as the unofficial prelim to the MR 340, this canoe, kayak and SUP race runs from Lamine to Jefferson City, Missouri. Get all the details on the Missouri River Freedom Race
25. Suwannee River Challenge (52 miles) – October 2014 – This southeastern classic starts in Fargo, GA and ends in White Springs, FL. Paddlers have the option to portage the Big Shoalls rapids. Check out the Suwanee River Challenge website