Record broke in Alabama 650 paddle race – Breaking News

With almost perfect weather and water conditions, Paul Cox and Joe Mann broke the record of running the Alabama 650 (AL650) race in the northeast corner of the state from Lake Weiss to the state’s beautiful Gulf Coast.

Cox and Man won the AL650 last year in 5 days, 22 hours and 8 minutes. This year, the team covered 650 miles in 4 days, 17 hours and 2 minutes. Runners Rod Price and Bobby Johnson finished in 4 days, 22 hours and 25 minutes. The top female and lone surgeon was Sally Odonel, who completed 4 days, 22 hours and 39 minutes.

Alabama Launched in 2019 at the AL650 to showcase abundant water lines and diversity, Laura Gaddy, Alabama Scene River Communications Director.

“We were looking for a way to highlight the value of our waterways for recreation,” says Gaddy. “Instead of inviting the best in the world to compete in this course, we thought of a better way to show it. They say the AL650 is one of the toughest courses in the world. They say it’s a host race. ”

One of the reasons the paddlers consider the AL650 one of the heaviest courses is to transport nine dams on the Kusa and Alabama rivers. Once they reach the mobile river, the ship’s equipment is complete, but then they have to deal with unpredictable conditions on the mobile bay.

“When we start the race, we will achieve our goal,” said Gaddy. “People are becoming more aware of the value of our water lines. This is a world-renowned rowing competition. They put it on the events bucket list. When people realize that our water is so good, the elite paddlers are willing to travel the world, and everyone, even Alabama, realizes how unique our resources are.

The number of entrances to the AL650 is set at 20 to make the route staff.

“We want to run the race responsibly,” Gaddy said. “Organizing and managing the competition is a great achievement in itself. We must have staff at each of the nine ports.

Although the winning team set a new standard for the race, Cox in Atlanta said it was not easy.

“It’s very difficult,” Cox said. My favorite thing about the AL650 is that you have so many water conditions. You start in the North Alabama lakes and then go to Wempamba and get some white water. The lakes can be very heavy because of all the boating traffic. But this year, I guess because of the extreme and rainy weather, there weren’t many boats on the water. We don’t have to struggle with boat revival, which makes it better. ”

Unlike other races, the AL650 has no sleep requirements, which means sleep deprivation is another obstacle for some paddlers.

Cox estimates that they spend about an hour at Wetumpka, two hours at Selma, two hours before entering Mobile Bay, and about two-thirds to Fort Morgan.

“This is what you need to do to be fast,” said Cox. “Sometimes you have to fight monsters. There were times when I was not feeling well. I was spraying myself with water and trying to stand up straight. You need to talk to each other and tell stories. My partner Joe is a great storyteller, but in the end he did not tell me any stories. That’s when I realized we had to drag and sleep. ”

Although the rapids at Wetumpka disrupted the daily routine of parents, Cox was particularly appreciated by Michel Lake.

“I think maybe Michelle Lake will be a favorite of all races,” he said. “It’s just so beautiful. You have rock formations on the east side of the lake.

“Then you get to Wempaca and enjoy a little white water. Then they enter the Alabama River, and it becomes a wide, slow river. But this year there was a lot of rain, and this year the rivers were moving fast. That contributes to speed. ”

After navigating through Montgomery and Selma, the sailors learned what rural Alabama looked like.

“You don’t see many people after peace,” says Cox. “As a racer, you get tired and you start to struggle with sleep by not seeing your employees very often. We see our workers about 12 miles north of Selma. After Selma, we drove up to 50 miles before we could see him.

During the stops, the support team met the competitors with warm clothes, food and clean water. Prepare hot dishes such as chili or roast beef and mashed potatoes in thermos containers for the next leg.

“That was the difference. Our wonderful sailors do everything for us.

Cox and Man did not visit as much as they did last year, but they did get a glimpse of the amazing mobile-tensa delta.

“We had a good time because the river in the south was flowing fast,” says Cox.

When Michelle was a favorite place for Cox, she said that after giving a swim to the Bay Brake, she gave the mobile Bay traveler a special satisfaction.

“I’m not a big ocean man,” said Mann. “I live in Kansas City, Missouri, which you can find far from the ocean. I don’t know if I’m a fan of the oceans. I did not expect it. And he ate us this year. He pointed us out. We had to use a lot of energy to get back to the boat. By the end, we were over 90 percent. We decided that it could all be demolished here, so we stopped, dried up, and found something to eat. ”

That stop gave the team enough strength to withstand the storm from the cold front, which inspired small craft tips.

“It was the hardest thing I had to do – go back in the dark and fight those waves,” he said. But if we want to win, we have to do it. As it turned out, we had a lot of fun, honestly. We thought about the design of the storm and how to do it. Paul had a successful career in sailing. The last four hours we went downstairs. I felt that we could take anything. I was tired, but we had a high level of confidence. Each time large rollers came in, we began to identify the angles of the waves. There were two different sets of waves that crossed each other. We boarded one and jumped on the next. Bay was a lot of fun. ”

Man and Cox said they learned a lot from last year’s competition and used that knowledge to shave as often as possible.

“When you do something like this for the first time, it’s a magical adventure and everything is new,” Mann said. You will have a learning curve for the second time. Looking back, it was fun, but we made a lot of mistakes. In this long course, there is a lot of room for error, which can be very time consuming. I think this year’s difference provides us with more analysis. It is not because we do not want to have fun, but because we have done it. Before it was a magical adventure. During this time we were able to carry out our plans to stay in the boat and continue to move. Obviously, we did that by beating our old time for about 30 hours. ”

Due to such long competition logistics, Cox did not decide to try three-peas. But he does not count it.

“The 650s are the coolest things you have to deal with,” he said. “You have lakes, rivers, white water and bay. It is very challenging. I have competed for 15 years. I competed in Yukon State. A few years ago, I ran the 1,000-mile race there. But this is unique because of the diversity of the environment. You have mountains and swamps. They see everything from the great blue heron to the eagle. You always feel like you are in the real world. I think it’s a great competition. Alabama is beautiful. Alabama certainly has a lot to offer. ”

For those who love kayaking or canoeing but prefer the pristine paddle with some of the most beautiful Vistas in Alabama, consider a trip to Bartram Tanoi or the Peridodo River Boat. The trails, built by the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, are part of the state and the 196 miles of water that is currently managed through the Wildlife Trust.

The Bartra Tano Trail in the Mobile-Tensaw Delta has four ground-based shelters and four floating platforms for the camp. The floating platforms serve as a backup only. The Perdido River canoe is located in Baldwin County and has six ground-based camps.

Visit for information on either route.

David Rainer is an award-winning writer who has covered Alabama’s greatest outdoors for 25 years. In the Mobile Press-Record, the former Outreach Editor writes for the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.

Leave a Comment