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Saturday, April 6, 2002 - Sunday, April 7, 2002 -- Webster Springs, WV
Webster Wildwater Weekend River Festival & Race (iPO Event Id#: 4858)
Story and photos by Julie Black

[Details] [Coverage] [Overall Results] [Pic Set 1] [Pic Set 2] [Pic Set 3]

Race Pic
Getting a face full in Webster Springs
The old spring saying as it goes is April showers bring May flowers. But no one said anything about April snow showers! Well, that's just what they got early Saturday morning, April 6th, in beautiful Webster Springs for start of the 4th Annual Webster Wildwater Weekend River Festival and Race. A chilly morning and a few snow flurries weren't going to scare away the dedicated paddlers who showed up to race down the Elk River.

This year many new boaters signed up to try their luck on the 5-mile stretch of class II & III whitewater. There were also paddlers signing up who have raced in the Wildwater Race since it's first year in 1999. This event attracts experienced river folk, and beginners alike.

The course put-in (or boat launching site), was just under a bridge off of route 15. It then wound its way down the valley, over many rock ledges, right back into the town of Webster Springs. The water level was a bit on the low side for this time of year, which presented new challenges for the racers. Less water may mean "less pushy" and it does give a paddler more time for decisions, but it also means that more rocks are sticking out of the river just waiting for a boat to get stuck on them.

Race Pic
Teaming up for the Webster Weekend
The staggered start of race came quickly as David Hammond of Morgantown, WV realized that his skirt wasn't on his boat! Rodney Rice showed great sportsmanship as he stopped to help Hammond with his dilemma. The paddlers made their way downriver, and it was certainly an advantage to know where to go and what line to take.

Off to a slow start that didn't hold him back, David Hammond flew to the finish in a blur with a time of 40:19 for first place. The real race was for second as the next three boaters finished within five seconds of each other.

After a number of technical difficulties, one being pinned on a rock, Rodney Rice (42:09), used his water reading skills and swift race boat to power him to the finish for 3rd. Those crucial missed seconds left enough room for Kim Casto to edge him out for second with a time of 42:06.

Racing in one of his first whitewater events ever, Jeff Mayfield battled with Rice & Casto to finish just seconds behind to gain 4th with a time of 42:11. "My forearms were burning," exclaimed Mayfield, "Near the end I was ready to peter out!"

Race Pic
Taking the Mad River out on the Elk
Deciding to race in her trusty river running boat rather than her race boat because of the low water conditions, Heather Rau still paddled fast to edge out her competition finishing as the first female with a time of 47:07. "That was a great time!" Heather said with a smile. Rau also took first place in the new event added to the festival this year, Slalom Racing!

Many awards for a number of different categories were given (see Overall Results to see the names). Sleek, engraved drinking glasses were handed out as trophies around the fire at the Camp Caesar party. The winners of the famous Webster Cup were rafters Judy Massey, Jack Massey, Tish Lake, and Dwayne McCourt. It was a great time as always in the spirit of river racing and small town fun.

See more great Webster Race photos taken by Bob Anderson at Click on Paddlepix, then Latest, then Webster or Webster 2.

Special Thanks...
Thanks to the West Virginia Wildwater Association, the Webster County Office of Emergency Services for safety services, all of the safety boaters, and especially to Mike Surbaugh for all of his hard work. Thanks to the race director Geary Weir for the race results, and putting on another wonderful event.

Thanks to the Sponsors...
Webster County Chamber of Commerce; Webster County Watershed Association; Beauty Mountain Sports; The Custard Stand; G&R I.G.A; John's Exxon; United National Bank; First Community Bank; Addison Visitors Center; Elk River Outfitters and Webster Memorial Fitness Center.

If any sponsor has been left out please e-mail me at