The Great Alabama 650, the World’s longest annual paddle race is underway. The 650-mile paddle race across the state of Alabama began Sept. 26 on Weiss Lake. The racecourse begins in the northeast section of the state, through the core section of the Alabama Scenic River Trail, from rushing whitewater to the ambling delta and finishes at Fort Morgan in Mobile Bay.
This year’s race has drawn competitors from near and far, both professional and amateur athletes. The pool of racers includes two from Hawaii and one from the Netherlands. The fact that paddlers from across the U.S. and even other countries are willing to travel so far to paddle on the Alabama Scenic River Trail is proof this state can be a magnet for paddlers.
With just 10 days to finish the race, competitors will spend long days on the water. In the first 24 hours, all racers traveled more than 100 miles with the lead team putting in 155 miles.
The Great Alabama 650 racers paddle without the cheer of crowds for encouragement, instead they encounter southern hospitality from “Trail Angels”-paddle and river enthusiasts who offer assistance throughout the trail.
The race is designed for virtual viewing using an up to the minute live map that tracks racers as they move from the foothills of the Appalachians to the Gulf of Mexico. Updates and information can also be found on the Great Alabama 650 Facebook and Instagram pages. Last year the map and social media content generated a lot of engagement from an audience that grew as the race progressed. The racers were especially encouraged by spectators that spontaneously came out to the riverfront to cheer them on as the race crossed their community.
Keep an eye on Mobile Bay as racers paddle to the final check point located at the mouth of the Bon Secour River. After they check in checkpoint 3, racers will paddle for the finish line located at the Fort Morgan Public Launch located on Highway 180 in Gulf Shores. Prize money will be awarded to the winners of each of the three categories: team, female solo and male solo.
Visit www.alabamascenicrivertrail.com to find links to the live tracking map, information about the race or information regarding the Alabama Scenic River Trail.