And There Was One Race to Rule Them All: Dane Jackson Wins Lord of the Fork Race


In a classic race in the Southwest, a record turnout of 96 racers hit Virginia’s Russell Fork for the Lord of the Fork race as a warm-up for the upcoming Green Race in North Carolina.

In the 21st edition of the Russell Fork Race, held after a 30,000-cfs flood scoured the riverbed just last spring, it was a familiar name on top of the podium with 2015 World Freestyle Champion Dane Jackson finishing in 6:22 for his second win in a row. Jackson came in seven seconds ahead of Geoff Calhoun in second at 6:29 and Isaac Levinson in third at 6:30. Local paddler Pat Keller took fourth at 6:37, followed by Andrew Holcombe in fifth at 6:39.

For the women, Adrienne Levknecht took first at 7 minutes flat, followed by Moriah Heaney and Anna Wagner tying for second at 7:49.

The coveted Class V, badge of courage, which takes racers through such rapids as El Horrendo, was renamed “The Lord of the Fork” in honor of Jon Lord, who died at Tower rapid on the run in 2004. A tribute to him could be found at each competitor’s bib bottom.

“We had a record turnout for the race this year,” says organizer Eric Deguil, giving a special call out to former record holder Chris Hipgrave, who was part of the very first timed event in 1995 and competed again this year against racers who weren’t even born then.

This year’s 30-second interval start went well, he adds, with a number of passes and faster racers eclipsed slower paddlers. “We hope to minimize those in the future,” he says. “But it sure made it exciting to watch at the finish.”

He gives a special nod to the safety crew for helping pull the event off, as well as such volunteers as Jesse Sammons, Gerald Delong, Daman Patterson, Jay Ditty, and Maggie Snowel.

“I also want to thank everyone who donated to help us cover our costs,” he adds. Many gave extra, which will cover most of our annual expenses, which is primarily insurance. I also want to thanks everyone who donated prizes and awards.