9th Annual Ocoee Race a Huge Success!!

By BG Smith.
Photos by Chris Anderson, Adrenia Clark, Karl Whip.


Record setting proceeds support Team River Runner Chattanooga


On October 14th, 2017, 138 racers met at the Middle Ocoee put-in for the 9th Annual Ocoee River Race.  Activities started at 7:00 AM on a beautiful morning that was a harbinger of the awesome racing that was to soon follow.  The race this year saw several records fall including the fastest time down the 5-mile run from Dam #2 to the Powerhouse, 30:05 minutes, and the most overall start times, 163, in the most race divisions ever, 19.  It was a wild day!  The biggest record of all, and the one all racers and volunteers should be most proud of was the over $5,000 (we are still counting) donations collected at the After Party that will support Team River Runner Chattanooga’s whitewater program (Click on this link to learn about TRR).  This was a huge win for everyone.  Photos below provided by Chris Anderson, Rain Chaser Photography. Copies of these and many more can be purchased at his website https://sites.google.com/view/rainchaserphotographyocoeerace/home.



Sarah Ruhlen, Elite Short Boat                    Alexander Singer, Jr Short Boat



Sarah Neal, Bellyak                                           Robert Fuino, Men’s Short Boat



Keith Sprinkle, Hand Paddles                    Wade Harrison, Elite Men’s Short Boat




John Rosenbaum, OC1 Long Boat               Mark Kieran, Men’s Short Boat




John Chalfant, SUP                                                  Sierra Star, Carnage


Jen Maxwell, Ocoee Race Director, organizer, and head cheerleader praised the many volunteers that made the event run so smoothly.  “We could not have done this without everyone’s help.  Over 100 volunteers put in countless hours to make this a success.  Our set-up crews, clean-up crews, race operations teams, and the on-water safety team, everyone!  So many people helping.  Often quietly in the background without much recognition.  It’s just a really great team dedicated to making the Ocoee Race a premier event and making sure everyone has a great time. I cannot thank you enough.”




Julie Wright-Carlson, Jen’s co-director, and TRR Chattanooga Whitewater program chair, had equal praise for the many sponsors that contributed to the financial success of the event.  “Team River Runner helps disabled and wounded veterans experience the joys of paddle sports and puts them on the “river to Recovery.’   Our sponsors recognize and embrace the value of this simple principle, to help make our veterans whole again.  We would not have achieved our goals this year without their generous support.  We thank you, our veterans and their families thank you, and the Chattanooga community thanks you.”  Julie noted the key sponsors this year included: TVCC, World Kayak, Rock/Creek, Jackson Kayaks, Pyranha Kayaks, NRS, Werner Paddles, Chattanooga Whiskey, ACE Kayaking, Good People Brewing Company, Bus Bar, Bellyak Kayaks, Ironman Foundation, Shockerz, Shred Ready Helmets, Mohawk Canoes, OAR, Nevrest Coffee, and Team Popp.




2017 Winners – For the Love of It!



Chris Hipgrave defended his title and was a double winner.  He also took hold the coveted Ocoee Race “For the Love of It” trophy (photo above provided by Karl Whip).  But it wasn’t easy.  In both Elite Men’s Long Boat and Elite Men’s Short Boat, Chris dueled with Terry Smith.  Chris edged Terry by 11 seconds in the Elite Long Boat division and only 5 seconds in the Elite Short Boat class.  Can’t wait for next year’s race!  Click here for Race Results:  By Division; By Finish Time.



This year we decided to have a video made celebrating our wonderful event….for those of you who couldn’t make it, I hope it makes you want to join us next year! It was a success!   Big thanks to Chris Anderson for some additional footage.


Enjoy! https://vimeo.com/238676387?ref=fb-share&1



Special Thanks from Jen Maxwell:



From the bottom of my heart I want to thank everyone who helped keep the things flowing this year as we planned and put on a VERY successful 9th annual Ocoee River Race!   This race/event is very special to me, and this year was no different.


  • Julie Wright- thank you for your help in having very successful raffle and by helping get our 10 class sponsors! I have no doubt we will be even better next year!
  • Ashley Teel- the timing and registration would not be nearly as smooth without your behind the scenes and behind closed doors work! Thank you!!
  • BG- thank you for ensuring we had the money to do what we wanted and for helping us get the banner! It looked great!!
  • To the volunteers- some of you were there at the put in setting up at 7am, some where there at midnight picking up trash, some were there in between, and some were there the WHOLE time! You all are the heart of the race! From the bottom of my heart, thank you!!
  • To those of you who came to watch the fast racers, dance your legs off to If Birds Could Fly, celebrate the winners, and enjoy some Good People Beer….well I have to tell you guys, we did amazing work! We had 138 participants and 175 start times. It grew again, yet went so smooth! You know we do good when pros, other paddle clubs, and even Louie gives you a compliment!


But above all- we raised over $5000 at the afterparty and with the TVCC match we will be giving Team River Runner Chattanooga over $5300! (Total amount pending full receipt of photographer funds).


You all are wonderful! Thank you!