Start your marathon paddle within miles of where the mighty James River begins in Botetourt County, then undertake an epic day on a Virginia Scenic River as you navigate multiple Class I and Class II rapids (along with sections of flatwater) on your way to the finish in Buchanan, 25.7 river miles away. An 8 mile option is also available. Learn more about the Upper James River Water Trail here.
**Note: high water levels at this time of year are possible. If water levels on race day are forecast to be over 5.0 feet, the race will be rescheduled for May 7 (check water levels here). Put both dates on your calendar. No refunds or deferrals will be offered if racers can't attend on May 7. In the event of high water on May 7th, the race will be cancelled for 2022. Participants will have the option of a deferral to the 2023 event or a 50% refund.
START/FINISH: The marathon starts at the Gala Public Boat Ramp off Route 220 north of Eagle Rock (river mile 11.3). The 8 Miler starts at the public boat launch at Horseshoe Bend (river mile 29). The finish for both distances is the Twin River Outfitters Ramp in Buchanan (river mile 37.0).
Click here for a river map.
TEAM SIZE and BOAT LENGTH:
While solo competitors will be allowed for both distances, for safety reasons we STRONGLY SUGGEST that paddlers in the marathon compete as teams. The day has the potential to be long and difficult if you are inexperienced in marathon racing.
Only boats with a manufactured length 12.0 ft and over will be allowed to race in the marathon. Paddlers who have a boat with a manufactured length of less than 12.0 ft MUST race the 8 Miler.
We'll use the following racing categories, although we reserve the right to combine categories based on participation:
Racing boats (you will know if you have one!)
Recreational boats (if you're not sure, this is most likely what you have)
A limited number of recreational canoes and kayaks are available for rent from Twin River Outfitters. Click here to reserve.
MANDATORY CHECK POINT (MARATHON): All competitors must check in at several locations along the course, including the Horseshoe Bend Campground (river mile 29.1) Water and snacks will be available at Horseshoe Bend. Marathon competitors must check in by 2 p.m. to be allowed to continue to the finish.
MANDATORY GEAR LIST for both distances: PFD (must be worn at all times), water, whistle, 20' rope or throw bag, dry bag containing emergency blanket, first aid kit, food, and jacket/clothes, fully charged cell phone in a dry box, extra paddle. Boat flotation is recommended.
RACE BRIEFING: 7:30 a.m. at the start (marathon); 10:00 a.m. at the start (8 Miler)
SHUTTLE TO THE START: The start at Gala is a 30+ minute drive from the finish at Twin River Outfitters in Buchanan. Ideally, teams should have a vehicle at each location. A limited number of racers can be shuttled to the start in by Twin River Outfitters. Check in at Twin River Outfitters in Buchanan between 6AM and 6:30 AM, with shuttle departing Buchanan by 6:45 AM and arriving at Gala by 7:15 AM. Boats will be unloaded and staged for a 7:30 AM Race Briefing. No shuttles will be available after the race. Click here to reserve the shuttle.
Marathon: $125/per person through 3/15; $150/per person after 3/15
8 Miler: $75/per person through 3/15; $95/per person after 3/15
Registration includes a t-shirt, post-race food, and fully-stocked aid station at Horseshoe Bend (marathon).
LODGING: Need convenient lodging options? Check out these...
Gala Farm House Air B&B (Sleeps up to 8), 1/4 mile from Gala Boat Landing
Gala Off Grid Cabin (1/2 mile from Gala Boat Landing)
Twin River Outfitters - Gala Campground (1/2 mile from Gala Boat Landing)
Douthat State Park (15 Miles / 25 minute drive from Gala Boat landing)