Race Report | The King Of The Alps | Italy | 2019 - dewerstone

Race Report | The King Of The Alps | Italy | 2019

One Hundred and Twenty kayakers set off at once down a 6km stretch of pushy class 3, where only the top 20 go through to the next round. Sounds pretty hectic huh? Exactly why I had to get involved in this years King of the Alps Race.

The event is held on the Passer river in Northern Italy, the river has many sections full of classic whitewater! The marathon is held on a lower section which consists of continuous pushy class 3 rapids which form an epic maze of a race course! The finals are held on a section of class 5 with a rapid known as the Intimidator, which is seriously impressive!

We broke up the journey with a little pit stop in one of my favorite alpine towns, Oetz. Home of the Sickline, it was great to come here to just relax and enjoy the whitewater. We paddled the Lower, Upper and Middle Oetz. The levels were prime and the Middle section was particularly hairy! Six years ago I got pinned in a sieve on the middle section and had to hike out, so it was awesome to drop in there again and have a clean run! 

It was time to head to the Passer and train. We drove through the night and woke up in the sunny village of Moos. Meeting up with fellow Brit, Beth Morgan, we headed to the Marathon section. Due to the late season snow melt, the levels were double what they have been in previous years. This made the race section big and bouncy with lots of cool lines and fun to be had. It was hard to take it seriously and focus on the fast lines! 

As the week went on, the levels remained high and the race section began to feel familiar and the laps started to feel smooth. We kept looking at the Intimidator throughout the week, but with only a few firing it up, none of us felt up to it! We finished training with a rest day. One lap in the morning and then an afternoon stroll into the gorge section, which was spectacular and gnarly! A must see if you're in the area. 

Registration was smooth and the goodie bags were, well, full of goodies! A fun evening was had cooking meat on open fires, rolling competitions, and kayak skate boarding! It was tough, but an early night was needed, a big day was ahead. 

Like most race days I got up early, prepared my kit and got a good breakfast in. We got to the put in and had a short warm up and tried to stay cool and out of the blistering sun! Due to the water levels, the race would have a rolling start. This involved the pack following two safety kayakers up to the start line, the safety kayakers would peel out of the way and the race would begin! 


Lyndon and I didn't like the idea of fighting for position for a kilometer before the start line, so we decided to go with the tactic of making an eddy, mid river and to peel out into the front of the pack as they passed. Now let me tell you, watching 120 paddlers coming at you from upstream is intimidating! None the less, the strategy paid off and the race began! 

I managed to get a great start and hit the first rapid in around top 10 position. But disaster struck! My back band blew just as I entered the rapid, mentally this was a huge blow. But once through the rapid, I was determined not to let it ruin my race and to be honest, it didn't make a huge difference. 

24 minutes of fighting to stay on line and getting pushed about by everyone else is exhausting! Lyndon didn't get as good of a start, but he managed to catch up to me. Before the race we made a gentleman's promise not to mess each other up, and we actually worked as a team to keep our position. We crossed the line pretty much together and were so stoked to find out that we finished with myself in 16th and Lyndon in 17th.  

My dodgy eye took a bit of water during the race and wasn't in a great way so I decided that continuing to race wasn't a good idea (I was also scared). Lyndon also decided having not trained on the finals course that he wasn't feeling it. But by doing this it allowed Bren Orton to get bumped up a couple of places and compete in the finals! 

The finals were epic, and it was so impressive to see these guys get clean lines down such a pushy section of whitewater. We were especially stoked for Beth Morgan who won the ladies marathon section and then competed in the first ladies final on the Intimidator, finishing in 2nd behind Nouria Newman. Well done ladies! 

Like all great paddling events, it ended with a huge party! Good food, cold beers and some dodgy dancing finished off a fantastic week at a fantastic event! Qualifying in an event like that is seriously challenging and you need a little luck thrown in there, so we were stoked we could put that race performance down and give the locals a run for their money! 

If you've not been before then check it out for next June! Places fill up fast so don't mess around deciding to enter, you won't regret it. I might just see you there! 


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