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August 15, 2011
By DAVID REYNOLDS - Bulletin Sports Writer

The Smith River was flowing a little swifter than usual by 10 a.m. Saturday morning.

That made the normally still and lazy route of the river race at the Smith River Fest a little more challenging, and it made the race more enjoyable for its competitors.

"They did a pretty large dam release, about 1,000 cubic feet per second, which is three or four times higher than it normally is here," said Ron Bell of Roanoke. "That brought the water level up enough to create four or five small class one rapids, which made it fun."

Michael Amos of Mayodan, N.C., cruised into the finish at the Smith River Sports Complex with the fastest time of the day at 34 minutes, 57 seconds. Amos, who finished almost two minutes in front of second-place finisher Allen Bumgarner (36:51), took the overall title and the men's racing kayak division.

In men's recreational kayak, which was separate from the men's racing kayak due to differences in the lengths of the boats, Scott Keaton won with a time of 43:10.

The women's recreational kayak had the closest finish of the day, with Linda Rachner edging Kimberly Hall by just six seconds. Rachner reached the finish in 48:09, and Hall completed the course in 48:15.

Francine Smith took the 60-and-older division in the women's recreational kayak with a time of 50:42.

In the solo canoe, Jeff Gobble finished in 41:37 to float to a victory, and Joey Dimeglio earned the 60-and-over title with a time of 52:06.

Bell, who used a stand-up paddle board to navigate the course, finished in 54:56.

"They were real nice and accommodating. They created a whole new division for me," Bell said. "Obviously I got first place because there was only one entrant."

In the mixed kayak division, which pairs two people in one large kayak, Robert Cardwell and Regina Dalton made their way down the river in 44:13.

Cardwell, who hails from Stoneville, N.C., said it was their third time attending the festival. He and Dalton brought three boats to the event, and after the competitive race, they did the course again to relax and have fun on the river.

"In the competitive part, we usually argue all the way down because we're not able to get into position to pass someone or whatever," Cardwell joked. "It's still a good time though. We had a good time overall."

In the family tandem canoe, Peter Katt and Kristen Katt won after finishing in 49:47. Christopher Hill and Sandra Medlin won the mixed tandem canoe in 53:49.

Organizers at the Smith River Fest estimated that a crowd of a little more than 500 showed up at the event, which also included a 24-foot climbing wall, a variety of bouncy castles, an inflatable obstacle course and vendors for a a multitude of products.

Vendors were selling boating equipment, food, clothing, bracelets and other trinkets during the day.

Singer Amanda Joyce also performed after the top finishers were announced at the event.

Several different kinds of boats were available for rent as well, and plenty of people in attendance took canoes and kayaks on the water after the race to row for fun.

The festival also drummed up some interest in the recreational activity from non-boaters in attendance.

"There's a lot of people up here who don't paddle, and that's what I like to see. I've had several people talk to me about getting a boat," said Bev Bryant, president of the Smith River Valley Canoe Club. "Our club, we teach people how to roll, roll-backs, and so I've talked to a couple people about that already today."

The most popular attraction for children at the event was the climbing wall, which had three sections - easy, medium and hard.

Dylan Cochran, 7, the son of Brenda and Kevin Cochran, was one of the many children who made it all of the way up and rang the bell at the top.

Cochran said he had climbed a wall that was higher at his school, but that the hard section of the wall gave him some trouble on his first try.

He went up the medium route on his second try and appeared to have no trouble getting to the top.

"Kind of," Cochran said when asked if climbing the wall was easy, "but the hard side wasn't."

Race Results

Saturday at the Smith River Fest

Men's racing kayak

Michael Amos 34:57

Allen Bumgarner 36:51

Lee Jones 37:07

Sam Keaton 39:22

Ray C. Banker 55:50

Kent David Kendall 56:56

Women's recreational kayak

Linda Rachner 48:09

Kimberly Hall 48:15

Cindy Edgerton 54:10

Alison Parker 55:48

Debbie Hogan 1:04:18

Kim Shrewsberry 1:05:18

Men's recreational kayak

Scott Keaton 43:10

Jared Hoernig 50:25

Danny Banker 56:01

Women's recreational kayak (60 and older)

Francine Smith 50:42

Solo canoe

Jeff Gobble 41:37

Solo canoe (60 and older)

Joey Dimeglio 52:06

Paddle board

Ron Bell 54:56

Mixed kayak

Robert Cardwell/Regina Dalton 44:13

Family tandem canoe

Peter Katt/Kristen Katt 49:47

Mixed tandem canoe

Christopher Hill/Sandra Medlin 53:49