Competitors Ready for Annual Outdoors Inc. Kayak & Canoe Race

Competitors Ready for Annual Outdoors Inc. Kayak & Canoe Race

32 years running, or rather, paddling, the Outdoors Inc. Canoe and Kayak Race is Saturday morning.
MEMPHIS, TN (localmemphis.com) - 32 years running, or rather, paddling, the Outdoors Inc. Canoe and Kayak Race is Saturday morning.

All around the north part of Mud Island, scaffolding is going up, boats are lining the shores of the Wolf and the Mississippi, and competitors are already getting themselves in the water to get a feel of what the big race might have to offer.

According to Race Director Joe Royer, "it's exactly a 5k on the largest river in North America."

Rich Hodgkins from Illinois has been racing since the 70s and says this is his first time in Memphis, but he's heard rumors.

"For me this is a short race, this is just a sprint," he says. "They say there's a lot of boils in it, and it can get kind of rough, especially if there's a headwind."

Hodgkins was getting in a 3 hour feeler cruise up the Wolf River Friday and hoping for a time around 30 minutes; others go much faster.

"We bill this as the fastest 5-thousand meters in the world," says Royer. "We have fast current and we have world record times because of that current."

Speaking of the world and the hundreds that partake in this race, they've had participants come from South Africa, Spain, England, Amsterdam and the Netherlands, but the race remains a local flavor.

"It'll be mostly us Memphians sticking our chest out, hey we are so fortunate we live on the 4th Chickasaw River on the Mighty Mississippi."

For Hodgkins, there's one thing that never goes away.

"There's always the butterflies that someone's going to knock you one way or there's going to be someone out there that's going to give you a challenge… you never know what's going to happen."

If you still want to take part in Friday's race and you're not the competitive type that's fine, there's lots of time to be lazy on the river. If you just want to watch, get here early; organizers say once things get going, Mud Island is going to turn into a huge party.

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