PELL CITY — A 10-day race down the Coosa River will come through Lake Logan Martin this weekend.
The third annual Great Alabama 650, hosted by the Alabama Scenic River Trail, will kick off Saturday.
Laura Gaddy, who handles media relations for the organization, said that 20 paddlers from around the country will converge on the state beginning this weekend for a 10-day long race down the scenic river trail.
“These are elite athletes.” Gaddy said. “Two of the racers, as an example, were just awarded a Guinness World record this year for finishing the Mississippi River in the shortest time ever.”
She said another racer has led a National Geographic backed expedition down the Amazon River and another will be competing without a lateral muscle after it was used to reconstruct her breast after cancer.
“Just the grit that these people have and the will to push themselves through a challenge and see it to the end is something to admire and watch," she said.
A news release from the organization said racers will face whitewater, battle tidewater currents, and hike around a dozen dams in this 650-mile, adventure-style paddle race. Gaddy said the race begins on Weiss Lake and goes all the way to Fort Morgan in Mobile Bay.
She said the race has no sleeping requirements and simply requires racers to spend their time on the water in kayak, canoe, stand up paddleboard. Racers will compete for first place in one of three divisions: male solo, female solo and two person team. Gaddy said while the race is set to be held over 10 days, it has been completed in as few as six in previous years.
Gaddy said the race is meant to be a showcase of the endurance and skill of the athletes as well as a way to show people the great appeal of Alabama’s waterways.
“This is a course that, right here in Alabama, we have access to a course that's a great challenge to them,” she said.
Gaddy said spectators in Pell City can likely expect to see racers on Logan Martin as early as Sunday as they make their way south. She said the race will also go through Gadsden, Wetumpka, Montgomery, Selma and many more cities.
The release said those interested can also follow the event virtually at AL650.com where race organizers will post a live map that will report up-to-the-minute updates on each boats’ whereabouts. The map will be augmented with Facebook and Instagram posts from the field, which spectators can find by following official race accounts or by using the hashtag #AL650.