Paddlers in Great Alabama 650

Paddlers from across the United States will once again race each other down 650 miles of Alabama’s scenic rivers in 2021 in the Great Alabama 650, the world’s longest annual paddle race. Photo provided 

Selma will again see some of the world’s most fierce paddlers race through on the Alabama River this month.

About 20 kayakers are coming to Alabama starting Sept. 18 to compete in the Great Alabama 650 race, a 650-mile, adventure-style paddle race that is considered extreme.

Racers face whitewater, battle tidewater currents, and hike around a dozen dams in this race that kicks off in Northeast Alabama on Saturday. Spectators can cheer for racers on riverbanks in Gadsden, Pell City, Wetumpka, Montgomery, Selma, Fairhope, and more.

The racecourse is the core section of the Alabama Scenic River Trail, a 6,000-plus mile mapped river trail system. The 650-mile core section of the river trail extends from the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains in Northeast Alabama through alligator country to the Gulf of Mexico.

Racers will have up to 10 days to finish the race and vie for a first-place win in one of three divisions – male solo, female solo, and two-person team. Participants will be allowed to use kayaks, canoes, or stand-up paddleboards interchangeably throughout the event.

Spectators can follow the event virtually at where race organizers will post a live map that will report up-to-the-minute updates on each boats’ whereabouts. The map will be augmented with Facebook and Instagram posts from the field, which spectators can find by following official race accounts or by using the hashtag #AL650.

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