CLAUDVILLE, Va. — Just as the Dan River flows out of the Patrick County mountains like clockwork, the Kibler Valley River Run keeps rolling along and will be held again Saturday, drawing canoeists and kayakers from around the region.
However, the 34th-annual event will be accompanied by a change in course triggered by a property access issue, according to Tom Bishop, a longtime member of the Red Bank Ruritan Club, which sponsors the run — a major fundraising activity for the Claudville community.
“It’s going to be held at a different site as far as the takeout point,” Bishop said of the area where canoeists, kayakers and floaters complete their run that begins upstream at a hydroelectric plant operated by the city of Danville.
The takeout location traditionally has been in the vicinity of Barnard’s Store on Kibler Valley Road, which has involved a longtime partnership between the Ruritans and multiple landowners there which recently ended at their request.
“The people who own the property and have let us use it all these many years, we have contracted with them and they chose not to let us use it this year,” Bishop said, declining to elaborate on the reason(s) given for the change.
“They’ve been very cooperative over the years,” he said. “It’s just their personal choice.”
This caused some regrouping by the Ruritan Club.
“We found another takeout site where the residents are willing to help us with,” Bishop added concerning the situation that brought a key change for this year’s event.
It has altered the overall length of the course, which has been listed as 11.5 miles in the past.
“It might two miles less — it will be shorter, which means they (participants) can make more tries at it,” Bishop said.
Yet one thing that hasn’t changed is an extra water flow scheduled from the hydroelectric plant, which greatly increases the velocity of the normally serene Dan River on the day of the run.
“We’ve been doing this for over 30 years, and they’ve given us the water release every time,” Bishop said.
The course will boast Category II and III rapids. Descriptions for these range from easy rapids with smaller waves and clear channels that are obvious without scouting, with some maneuvering possibly required, to rapids with high, irregular waves and narrow passages that often require precise maneuvering.
Bishop said primitive campsites will be offered for event attendees. More than 50 sites are included, which are available on both Friday and Saturday at $20 per night.
Other event details
Registration starts at 8:30 a.m. Saturday, with the racing to begin at noon.
The registration cost is $25 per person, which is “no different if you are doing it for fun or competing,” Bishop mentioned.
“They can make as many runs for this one registration as time allows.”
Practice runs will be available to contestants.
Shuttles will take participants to the power plant, with free parking provided.
“We transport entrants from the takeout point (registration site) to the power plant with their kayak or canoe — plus we give them a free 2016 commemorative T-shirt,” Bishop added.
More than 30 levels of competition will be included, made up by combinations of youth, adult, senior and duo divisions for canoes and kayaks; duckies (rubber blow-up devices); and stand-up paddleboards.
Trophies are to be awarded for first-, second- and third-place finishers.
Concessions will be sold at the event.
All proceeds from the Kibler Valley River Run go to the community and the Red Bank Ruritan Club for various causes.
The funds are used for families in need, those coping with extreme illnesses, benefit dinners, college scholarships for deserving youth, summer camp youth scholarships, needy children at Christmas, firewood for the elderly, Hunters for the Hungry, Tools for Schools (supplies for Blue Ridge Elementary School at Ararat), after-hour student tutoring and much more.
Bishop further pointed out that the Ruritans provide upkeep for facilities including the local community building where various events are held, the voting precinct, a Little League ballfield and others.
From Mount Airy, Kibler Valley Road can be reached via Route 773 (Ararat Highway), and then going about 4.2 miles to the new registration/takeout site, which requires turning right and crossing a bridge.
Its address is between 4232 and 4776 Kibler Valley Road.
Tom Joyce may be reached at 336-415-4693 or on Twitter @Me_Reporter.