Neches Wilderness Canoe Race- For twenty years, water enthusiasts from across the nation and the world have gathered in Palestine to participate in the “toughest little canoe race” in existence in order to raise scholarship funds for the students of the Trinity Valley Community College Palestine campus. The increasing popularity of the race down the last wild river in Texas is drawing larger crowds each year.
The Neches Wilderness Canoe Race began as a fund raiser sponsored by the Trinity Valley Community College chapter of Phi Theta Kappa, the National Honor Fraternity for American Junior Colleges. In recent years the funds gathered through the race have been in excess of $10,000, and provided over 85 scholarships to deserving students. The scholarship program benefits a variety of students including returning adults, single parents, veterans and recent high school graduates. In addition, the race positively impacts the tourism economy of Palestine and Anderson County.
The Neches race has become one of Texas’ most successful paddling events and has earned a national reputation as one of the best organized and most challenging races in the state. The race has become a tradition around Texas, regularly attracting one of the largest fields of paddlers in the state. Along with the good cause of the scholarship fund the excitement of the challenging Neches River race course keeps paddlers coming back every year for more. The race draws both highly skilled marathon and adventure racers as well as recreational paddlers.
The Neches Wilderness Canoe Race takes place on a section of the Neches River in rural Anderson County near Palestine, about 120 miles southeast of the Dallas-Ft. Worth Metroplex. This part of the Neches is the Texas State Historical Railway section, where vintage steam trains carry tourists between stations at Palestine and Rusk, crossing the Neches near where U.S. Hwy. 84 transects its banks south of the race course finish line. Driving time from Houston is about 2.5 hours, from Dallas about 2 hours, and from Tyler about 1 hour.
The race covers 22 miles of scenic, largely uninhabited Neches River Trail and the uniquely challenging race course annually attracts a mix of world class marathon canoe and kayak racers, adventure racers, and amateurs of all ages for a crazy day of fun and adventure on the Neches River. The race begins just below Lake Palestine and Blackburn Damn and finishes 22 miles downstream at U.S. Hwy. 79, 17 miles northeast of Palestine, Texas.
The Neches is one of the toughest flatwater races in the state, as there are lots of obstacles and little current. Fallen trees, stumps, and low water are typical conditions during the late summer.
The race is set for two classes of paddlers: leisure and pro. The leisure classes start one hour before the pro class. By starting an hour later, will have to catch up to the leisure class and maneuver their way around and through the slower paddlers in order to make their way to the front of the pack, giving them, in effect, an added obstacle to overcome and giving both classes more time on the river together.
Water stations and check points are set up at two locations along the race course, with race volunteers monitoring paddlers’ condition, and providing water to anyone needing it. Radio operators are stationed along the way to provide instant contact to emergency personnel should it be necessary.
At the finish line race volunteers will pull canoes from the river for the weary paddlers and everyone will enjoy hamburgers, cold drinks and watermelon. The shuttle starts to run, taking racers to the starting line to pick up their vehicles. Awards and t-shirts are presented when all paddlers have crossed the finish line. A drag boat will sweep the river from starting line to finish to make sure no stragglers remain on the river.
Online registration is open. Click here to register online.
Leisure Division- $30 per person
Solo Unlimited $40 per person
TCRA Aluminum $30.00
T-Shirts will be free to participants who registered prior to July 29.
*Check in begins at 6:00am.
*After inspection of participants and crafts, the participants will have numbers placed on their boat for identification.
*Classes will launch at timed intervals.
*Leisure Class canoes will begin launching at 8:00am.
*Pro Class canoes will begin launching at 9:00am.
*If a canoe has not passed the last checkpoint by 3:00pm, the participants will be removed from the race. All contestants must be out of the water by dark to ensure safety.
For more information about the Neches River Wildernes Race visit the Race Page.