GORE FEST 2015 RECAP. by Hattie Johnson

GoreFest went down a couple of weeks ago, August 21-22nd, and it was a blast. Tons of dirtbags, hardly any carnage, piles of pulled pork, a surprise band, streakers, (illegal!) fireworks, campfire wrestlin’, and lots of fun paddling.

The festival started Friday with a good crowd showing up to register and to enjoy the donated screening of DamNation. The festival this year was expanded because of the brand new whitewater park built at Pumphouse, the festival location. This whitewater park was built to protect potential future upstream water users from taking more agua from our precious Colorado River. Watching DamNation was the perfect way to start of the weekend’s celebration of appreciation and fun on the river! If you haven’t seen it yet, it is a must. There were collective chills and tears from the crowd, and was a great way to spend the night before the big race.

Saturday morning started bright and early with loads of racers pouring in and registering, safety teams getting coordinated, and an across the board high level of stoke.
I would like to take this moment to give a huge, big, enormous shout-out to my MOM who took charge and rocked the registration table all night Friday and ALL day Saturday while the rest of us were out there playing. We would not have had a race without you.Thanks Mom xoxo!
Mom, aka Nannette, holding it down at the registration table with the beautiful Colorado River rolling past behind us

After all 64 racers, kayakers and rafters, finally registered, a pre-race meeting was held and boats were loaded. A huge thanks to Adventures in Whitewater (who provided way more than shuttle, but we will get to that) and Timberline Tours for getting everyone up to the put-in.
The weather could not have been more beautiful all day long. 

The Colorado afternoon thunderstorms stayed away and a bear even came to say hello to all the racers and race officials at the start line. With the small exception of small hiccups and carnage the race went beautifully. With flows just under 1100 cfs everyone had smooth lines. At least generally smooth. I was on spectating crew at tunnel falls. I saw some really beautiful race lines and some epic wallaces from the spectators and safety teams (myself included). The carnage highlight of the race took place in the crux of the run, Gore Rapid. The infamous “Indecision Rock” provided the just the spot for a beautiful wrap for the Rocky Mountain Amateurs. It gave them a great view of the other raft racers as they desperately tried to avoid flipping off the pinned raft. The whole ordeal was captured by the talented photographers at Rapid Image Photography. [All pictures from the weekend’s events can also be viewed and purchased on their website]
This one is one of my favorites
Team Liquid Descent narrowly avoids the flip off the Rocky Mountain Amateurs perched on Indecision

Liquid Descent crossed the finish line at a break neck pace of 26:58, giving even a couple of kayak racers a run for their money. The marooned Rocky Mountain Amateurs however did not go home empty handed, receiving the coveted “Long Haul” award, beautifully crafted by the Iron Tamer out of Kremmling (The trophy was made of a sundial).
1st place in long boat, Charlie MacArthur crushed Tunnel Falls in the wavehopper, bringing it back! (He also took home first in the SUP race, beating the second place racer by over 5 minutes, BEAST)
A very common scene at the bottom of Tunnel
Gore Race Results:
The other 1st place winners also got to take home these amazing handmade trophies!
As folks arrived back at Pumphouse and got into dry clothes the SUP racers were already gearing up. A few of the canyon racers were hard core enough to jump out of the kayak with their Jell-o arms and hop on the stand up board to crush the 5 mile Class II-III sprint down the Upper Colorado to Radium. A floating mass start made for an exciting beginning to the race and the setting sun made some beautiful pics!

Peter Hall from Hala Boards brought the fleet for folks to demo. We had an awesome turn out from the stand up crew with 24 racers on Saturday night, many of which stuck around to battle it out in the SUP cross on Sunday.

Our women’s SUP sprint winner, Ashley Bean (green helmet) stares down her competition as she drops into Needle’s eye rapid on the Upper C. (She passed about 5 dudes shortly after this photo was taken)

After a full day on the water all the athletes came back and chowed down on a to-die-for BBQ dinner. All the meat was provided for FREE by the wonderful people at the Middle Park Meat Co in Kremmling. (I don’t know if you’ve caught on yet, but the local community of Kremmling and Grand County THREW DOWN for this festival and are hugely appreciated. Go give them your business!) Another local company, The Ute Trail Motel provided a gourmet chef, grill and smoker with lots of help from the awesome guys at Adventures in Whitewater.

While most of the participants were headed up to the put-in, American Whitewater set up their booth at Pumphouse. AW has been huge donor and supporter of the festival for a long time. This year they brought down 2 new kayaks and a truck load of other gear to raffle off. The entry fee for the raffle was a discounted American Whitewater membership (I know you all use that website every day, so get a membership already). A huge thank you to AW for your help in pulling off this great event. Conservation of the river was a central theme to this year’s festival with the whitewater park and new water right. It was perfect to have the nation’s protector of rivers for recreational use present.
As the sun set and bellies were full the slideshow of the day’s events started. As I was standing off to the side (sipping some delicious apple-pie moonshine), a group of guys came up and literally said…”Hey, we are a band and heard this was going on, would y’all want us to play?” So Fish out of Water ( jammed on as the slideshow rolled and the party got started!

[all details of the party are omitted due to potential federal authority eyes that may see this] [All I’ll say is streakers, hot girl streakers, well and that one dude]

Sunday started a little slower with most of us needing a bit more sleep after the previous evening. The first ever GoreFest freestyle event went down with a broad and impressive field of competitors. We of course had the playboaters, but Nick had his IK and Rich in the mini max tore up the new whitewater park with the best of them. Next year we will definitely have an open class!
Rich with a big ender
It was awesome to have local, Quinn Strauch, take home the gold on the wave he can be found out most weekends.

The SUP Cross brought GoreFest weekend to a close with some of the more intense and hilarious competition I have seen in a while. I’m slowly getting on the SUP bandwagon and this event sold me. Watching 20+ people standing up out on the river is just funny. There were 3 gripping heats as racers circled buoys and navigated the right chute of the whitewater park.

Our overall champion, Chris Menges, left w/ green and white Badfish, competed in all 4 events of the weekend. He took 12th in short boat, 3rd in SUP sprint, 3rd in freestyle and earned the nickname the “Crusher” in the cross event (see above photo).
GoreFest was on the verge of dying off. The support and community that came together to keep that from happening was truly inspiring. It’s events like this that bring people together who love the river and give us a chance to celebrate these natural places we as paddler’s get to enjoy like no one else does. I can’t wait for next year!!

One last time… Thank you to all our sponsors! American Whitewater, Blue Valley Ranch. Everist Materials, Part’s City Kremmling, Tayben Transportation, Adventures in Whitewater, The Adventure Company, Rapid Image Photo,, Middle Park Meat Company, The Iron Tamer, Wavemonkey Scoring, Alpine Quest Sports, 4corners Riversports, Patagonia, Felt Soul Media, Downstream Adventures, Peak Provisions, Ute Trail Motel, Kremmling Chamber of Commerce,  and Croft Bodywork


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