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Monday, September 21, 2009 -- Summersville, WV / Summersville Dam
The ANIMAL Upper Gauley Race (iPO Event Id#: 12335)

Coverage: [1998] [1999] [2000] [2001] [2004] [2005] [2006] [2007] [2008]

2009: [Details] [Coverage] [Photos] [Overall Results] [Results by Class]

The Legend of the Gauley ANIMAL is alive and well in WV

Photos by J.R. Petsko with story by Race Director, Donnie Hudspeth

ANIMAL Upper Gauley River Race, Photo by J.R. Petsko
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Under cloudy skies with the threat of rain, a growing group of people gathered to play the game on the Gauley. The Game- the ANIMAL Upper Gauley Race! The race, now 17 years old, is an icon in whitewater racing on an icon of whitewater. Despite the 100% chance of rain, and the Monday morning race day, people from all over the country were making the pilgrimage to the tailwaters for the Upper Gauley.

It is a special day and a special event. Open to all, the event has included former Olympians, National Champions, World Champions and anyone else ready to play the game. The Gauley is a whole lot of race. All nine miles of the Upper Gauley at 2,800 cfs and finishing at the infamous Sweets Falls. The river has it all; big water rapids, rocks and long pools. Paddling the Gauley is one thing. Racing is tough, as it is easy to over paddle the flat sections and enter rapids tired and breathing hard. Flipping is common and so are swims. It happens to the best of us.

On this day we had a great crowd! Boats start in packs by category, so for example all slalom kayaks start together, right? How about 22 slalom men starting together? Pillow Rock here we come! Can you imagine? What a day it was.

With seven R6 teams competing for the "Gauley Cup" this was clearly a race in progress. You can just feel the energy, it is really hard to describe, but once you feel it then you never forget it and you want to feel it again.

Geoff Calhoun, Photo by J.R. Petsko
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Someone has to lead the pack of course, and this year, the Fastest Man on the Gauley was Geoff Calhoun. Geoff has competed and won in the past and this year Geoff came to win obviously and paddled a nice looking Wildwater boat. Great job and great time Geoff!

The Fastest Woman was a first time winner here and she was psyched! Adriene Levknecht took the prize as Fastest Woman, great job Adriene!

In the R6 Raft Team category it was a team from Colorado that took the title, and with it the "Gauley Cup". The Timberline Tours boat, "Behind the Eight Ball" led the other teams to the finish at Sweets Falls.

New this year, the Gauley Cup was a custom trophy that went to the winning team in that R6 class. The "Cup" is a custom pottery piece and a unique and beautiful award for that winning team. Locally produced from Gauley River Pottery, it was the perfect award.

There are many whitewater outfitters and enthusiasts in the local area, it seems logical there should be a category for river professionals to show their stuff!

The Women's raft team, "Narrtian", took the Gauley Cup home for the Women.

All in all it was a tight race between the raft teams with only minutes spread between the pack. Great to see so many people psyched and into the race again this year!

Thanks to all our volunteers, timers, and safety boats. Next year let's have a few more of every class and keep the legend alive!

For more results and photos, go to