We’ve run Hell or High Water for seven years, and we find that each year, a lot of the same sorts of questions arise. Hopefully these details help you understand the mechanics of the event and address any of your questions.
1. Is the water cold?
A. Yes. Its May… but racers all have (at a minimum) wetsuits, splash tops and lifejackets (provided free) which help alot. The air temperature is more of a concern really. Bring a sweater for after the race in case it is chilly.
2. Do I need to know how to raft?
A. No. ESPRIT Rafting has decades of experience in safely running commercial trips all across North and South America. They are one of the premier rafting outfitters in the world, and we’re proud to have them guide the teams during the event. That said, I would hesitate to recommend it to non-swimmers.
3. Is it scary?
A. That depends on your outlook. The rapids are big enough to get the heart pumping, but they are deep and safe at this time of year.
4. Is it safe.
A. Yes. Aside from the occasional dunking (%50 of racers) and the odd minor scrape or bruise, we have an excellent safety record. In addition to the raft guides, each major rapid has a team of safety kayakers to help fish swimmers out of the water.
5. I don’t have a full team yet. Can I still race or register?
A. Yes, of course. The cost is per boat. The boat takes a maximum of six racers plus a guide. You can race with fewer people if you want. And yes, even if you don’t have a full team of 6, you can register now and just send in the names of team mates once you convince them to join up. Better to register early and save your spot, than wait too long and miss out.
6. How long are the races?
A. Each team gets two laps of the river. Most go slowly their first lap, and try a little harder the second, but it is entirely up to you. If you want to race it all out, go for it. If you prefer a tentative and slower line, that’s OK too. Just tell your guide. From the time you arrive at registration to the time you hand in your helmet, it is roughly 2.5 hours.
7. What do we win?
A. The respect and admiration of your friends… or a sweet looking etched beer glass at the awards dinner.
8. How many other teams are there?
A. It varies, but you can bank on at least 30 other teams of six racing that day. We have had as many as 70 teams over the weekend, and about 100 kayakers.
9. How do teams pay?
A. Cash is preferred and please try to arrange so the entire team is on hand to pay at one time, ideally through your captain when you arrive at registration. It makes life much easier.
10. Is there an age limit?
A. We ask that racers be at least 12 years old (parental signature required). We’ve had racers of all ages above that though.
11. When do I need to be there? What time do I race?
A. Start times are assigned a few weeks before the event. The sooner you register the greater flexibility in getting your preference in start time. If you need a morning or afternoon slot, I can usually accommodate.
12. When will I race?
A. We set the times a week or so in advance, the earlier your register,the better your start time. Races start at 8 am (7 am arrival).
Any other questions, send them to firstname.lastname@example.org