Commonwealth Journal

June 20, 2013

Paddling up the Right Creek

Enthusiast organizing 101-mile lake kayak race

Special to the CJ
Commonwealth Journal

Burnside —

Susan Powell, shown below with her dog, is a former federal agent and kayaking enthusiast who organized the last three Lake Cumberland kayak fishing tournaments for "Heroes on the Water," a non-profit charity which helps disabled veterans, She is back again this year with what she hopes will be a marathon kayak race that draws attention to the Lake Cumberland region..
"The 2013 Lake Cumberland 101 Mile Kayak/Canoe/SUP/Surfski Race is scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 19. That night is a full moon which will help paddlers during the night of the race," Powell explained.
"The race will start at 7:00 a.m. at Wolf Creek dam and paddlers will paddle non-stop past Conley Bottom, Burnside Dock to Dixie Bend to a turn-around and finish at Lee’s Ford Marina for an awards ceremony.
"Paddlers will stay at Lee’s Ford (Paddler’s village) and their shuttle will leave at 5:00 a.m. for the 7:00 a.m. start at Wolf Creek Dam. The finish line is at Lee’s Ford which is convenient so racers can sleep before the awards ceremony.
"Most paddlers will paddle this distance on the average of 25-plus hours, putting them at the finish line about 8:00 a.m. Sunday, Oct. 20, after a day of non-stop paddling.
"I have been talking to some of the racers and they will be traveling from far distances for this event. Lee’s Ford will again host the event for paddlers to stay in their cabins allowing them to attend a mandatory safety meeting 6:00 p.m. Friday prior to the race.
"This event calls for considerable of coordination with safety boaters, communication and sponsors from the local Lake Cumberland area.
"Proceeds will go to Team River Runners—wounded warriors and their families.
"I created the kayak fishing events myself, but will need support and assistance to make this Kentucky’s first marathon kayak/canoe race a big success. Some of these races attract hundreds of paddlers to their area.
"Tourism is slowing down in October, so this race should be a big boost to our economy and I expect it to draw national attention.
"The MO340 race (yes, that’s 340 miles of paddling) attracted 15 boats its first year, 75 the second, and last year durings its eight season, 400 boats! The Ohio Paddlefest started with 60 paddlers, and in their tenth year they had more than 2,200 paddling at one time, and over 5,000 enthusiasts visiting their area.
"I know with a lot of support, the Lake Cumberland area could be a main attraction area for kayakers, canoeists and Stand Up Paddleboards and surfskis.
"I attended the Nashville Paddlefest a few weeks ago to market this event and our area as there was over 300 people paddling and trying out new gear. I raced at the Volunteer80 in Knoxville passing out information for this event and will be racing this Sat in Ohio.
"There are already 10 top, elite marathon kayakers and the world’s best SUPer registered for the Lake Cumberland 101. If you ever wanted to know and see the top athletes in this field, this is the place and time this year!"
Powell can be contacted at 606-383-3061 or at for additional information and sponsorship and support.
Powell has been kayaking for 29 years. She started doing an internshipship at Western Carolina University, 30 miles from the famous Nantahala Outdoor Center in Bryson City, NC.
"I didn’t have a vehicle back in college, so would ride my road bike pedaling 30 miles one way to work Sat and Sun as a raft guide. I got hooked on whitewater and did a lot of class IV stuff and lived right on the Nantahala River paddling 7 miles to work with no traffic or stop signs…just the cold running water under my kayak.
"When I came to Lake Cumberland, I bought my first flat water kayak in 1996; a 20’ Chesapeake Lightcraft which I paddle all the time. I took to flat water racing in 1998 and was very competitive.
"Due to an injury, I stopped racing and turned my efforts to kayak fishing. Though it is exciting to catch fish from a kayak, I find the thrill and excitement from a long distance race or even fast sprints. I have traveled to many venues to race or just take part in a paddlefest but I can’t help thinking that Lake Cumberland’s 101 miles is very perfect to host Kentucky’s first kayak/canoe distance race."