‘We want to get people on the river’

By JENNIFER COHRON, Daily Mountain Eagle
Posted 6/18/17

Online registration has begun for the inaugural Sipsey Fork River Race, scheduled for July 15.

Organizer Martha Salomaa said she hopes paddlers walk away with a new appreciation of the Sipsey River’s beauty.

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‘We want to get people on the river’

Posted

Online registration has begun for the inaugural Sipsey Fork River Race, scheduled for July 15.

Organizer Martha Salomaa said she hopes paddlers walk away with a new appreciation of the Sipsey River’s beauty.

“The stretch that goes from below the dam to the forks in Sipsey is gorgeous. We want to get people on the river so that they can see what we have. It’s a beautiful ride that rivals anything you could find somewhere else,” said Salomaa, who has participated in a similar race in Mississippi.

Twelve miles of the Sipsey Fork will serve as the race course. Participants can compete in a canoe, kayak or paddle board.

Paddlers will be allowed to proceed at their own pace.

“The first time I ever kayaked was there, and I was fine. You don’t have to be a star athlete. I would say anybody could complete the race,” Salomaa said.

Salomaa encouraged early registration because the race will be limited to 75 participants.

The registration fee is $40 for an individual or $70 for a team of two. Anyone wanting to register may visit eventbrite.com.

Registration packets will be available for pickup July 14 at Jeans on the River.

The Cordova restaurant is also hosting an awards ceremony at 6 p.m. the day of the race.

Participants will drop off their gear at Riverside Fly Shop starting at 7 a.m. on July 15. Parking will be available at T&R Grocery.

The race will last from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

“We’re giving people plenty of time. Most people will finish in five hours even if they take a couple of breaks,” Salomaa said.

The event is being organized by the Sipsey Heritage Commission, Walker County Health Action Partnership (HAP) and Black Warrior Town Rising.

HAP is a coalition of organizations working to improve health outcomes. In October, 50 paddlers participated in HAP’s “Fall into Mulberry Fork” float trip in Cordova.

“This will expose people to a different part of our network of streams. While it is a kayak race, it is a paddle event, so it’s an opportunity to be out on the water with a large group of people who have similar interests,” said Jenny Short, chairman of HAP’s Livable Communities Priority Group.

The Sipsey Heritage Commission and Black Warrior Town Rising are focused on promoting the history and natural resources of Sipsey. The Sipsey Fork River Race is both groups’ first public event.

Salomaa said proceeds from the event will be used on improvement projects in Sipsey and East Walker County.