Some people dream of stepping up to the Green River Narrows. Some people run it every weekend, enjoying takeout beers with their friends in the parking lot. Hoards of kayakers race down it during the infamous Green River Narrows Race every November. A select few choose to race down the river, then ride a road bike up out of the gorge on a 26 mile loop during the last weekend in April.
The idea originated with Jerry Beckwith, a well-known and well-loved local who enjoyed time in the bike saddle as much as time in his kayak. Jerry was diagnosed with ALS, a debilitating and fatal disease, in the prime of his life. In response, the Green River community began a fundraising race shortly after his diagnosis. Jerry lived just long enough to see the first race go down.
Now, 13 years since its beginning, Jerry’s Baddle is still going strong in the Green River Gorge. The race continues to raise money for North Carolina families impacted by the incurable disease. For participants and their supporters, it’s a time to raise money, come together with friends, and remember Jerry.
Immersion Research has been a long-time sponsor of the race, providing prizes for top finishers. Prizes and free beer help to ensure continued participation over the years. Many of the competitors have been participating for years, juggling training with jobs, families and other responsibilities. The race is a great way for seasoned kayakers to get some spring training motivation. It’s also a great way to begin racing the Green. About half the competitors choose to walk around Gorilla and Sunshine, the hardest rapids on the river, making the race course suitable for strong class IV aspiring racers.
Jerry’s Baddle has raised over $76,000 for the North Carolina ALS Association in 12 years. We could not do it with the generous support of companies like Immersion Research.
Written by Erin Savage