Pat Keller put in his time this go-around to help make sure he’d win his third, coveted stained glass trophy for the 17th annual Green River Narrows Race. Keller bested the field with a time of 4:14, four seconds ahead of runner-up Dane Jackson, with the Madawaska Canoe Centre’s Katrina Van Wijk taking it for the women. PL checks in with Keller to see what got him the glass…
Sponsored by Dagger, Immersion Research (which designed a custom skirt and shortie for him), Astral Designs and Werner Paddles, Keller’s win was his third in the race, having won it in 2006 and 2008. But despite being in the top two six out of nine times he’s raced, it’d been five years since he reached the victory stand. Last year, Kiwi Mike Dawson won it, setting a new course record of 4:10 when the course was 12-13 inches on the gauge. Issac Levinson took it in 2011, Dawson nabbed it in 2010, and Andrew Holcombe won it in 2009 and 2007. But this year’s was Heller’s time to shine.
“It was at a perfect level,” he says of the Nov. 2 race date. “A little bit of rain kept it at the 100-percentlevel of about 9-10 inches on the gauge, which is right what everyone had been training on.”
As for preparing, he got after it more than in years past. “I trained a lot in the Ledges and attainment sections, and spent more time than ever training in my Green boat on flatwater,” he adds. “I was in that boat a lot, dialing it in, so I was feeling pretty strong going into this one.”
It helped that he knows the lines as well as anyone, from the best way to boof Gorilla to maintaining speed in the boogie water. “I was lucky enough to have a solid run with very few mistakes,” he says. “Everything of importance was really smooth. I had aggression and stamina to drive the boat through the pools. The breaks are pretty long for a sprint. You have to really push yourself on the flats. You can’t simmer back. In the big rapids is where you have to breathe. In the rapids you try to just stay smooth and calm and save energy.”
Then, of course, comes the added advantage of being in the boat he helped design, the Dagger Green Boat. “I’d like to thank Dagger for trusting in me to help develop and design the Green boat years ago,” he says. “We’re now seeing it come into its own, and it’s created its own separate class for racing. It’s spurred this whole new category. But in these big boats, if you come off even 10 degrees to the right you have to fix that with a correctional stroke, which costs you time.”
While he knew he scored a fast run, he wasn’t sure it was fast enough to win until he was called up toe stage at the raucous Halloween costume and awards party at Highland Brewery, featuring a movie premiere by AMONGSTiT.
“No one who knew who won until we were all at the party and they announced it,” he says. “I knew I had a good run, but I was still in the dark up until then. Then they brought us up and announced it. I just hit the roof I was so excited. I had seen the stained glass Todd (Grafe) was working on, so I really wanted it. It’s a beautiful circular stained glass with little water drops and a yellow boat and things. It’s already hanging up. It’s one of my most prized possessions.”
For the women, Katrina Van Wijk asserted her dominance, besting Adrienne Levknecht in both the long and short boat divisions.
The Green Race: A Brief History
The Green Race was first organized by Leland Davis in the fall of 1996 with a modest field of 16 racers. It has since grown and grown, drawing paddlers from around the world, not for cash but for bona fide bragging rights. Perhaps no other prize in whitewater kayaking is more coveted than the piece of stained glass so graciously donated each year by Todd Grafe. The race is always held on the first Saturday of November.
Men’s Long Boat:
1 Pat Keller 4:14 (Dagger Green Boat
2 Dane Jackson 4:20 (Jackson Karma)
3 Eric Deguill 4:21 (Liquidlogic Stinger)
4 Gerd Swerrasolses 4:27 (Jackson Karma)
Men’s Short Boat:
1 Issac Levinson 4:35
2 Dane Jackson 4:42
3 Pat Keller 4:43
4 Gerd Swerrasolses 4:50
Women’s Long Boat:
1 Katrina Van Wijk 4:43
2 Adrienne Levknecht 4:52
3 Emily Shanblatt 5:57
Women’s Short Boat:
1 Katrina Van Wijk 5:20
2 Adrienne Levknecht 5:22
Complete Results: Click Here