Conan O’Brien Skeptical But Historic Boat Race Set For Labor Day Weekend In Elysian Valley

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Photo courtesy Team SoCial 

As many as a hundred racers in kayaks, canoes and stand-up paddle boards will gather Labor Day weekend in the Elysian Valley for the first-ever L.A. River Boat Race.

They’ll be showing that not only is the L.A. River “navigable”- as the federal government has already decided – but that it is also “raceable,” despite the sometimes low-water levels that pundits, including comedian Conan O’Brien, like to poke fun at.

tshirt“Next weekend, Los Angeles is holding its first river boat race,” quipped O’Brien  in the opening monologue on his TBS talk show. “All that’s missing is a river in Los Angeles with water.”

“Challenge accepted, Conan,” returned L.A. River Expeditions founder George Wolfe in a tweet. “You show up on the L.A. River, and we’ll provide river water and kayaking equipment.”

Organizers L.A. River Expeditions have designed a three-quarter mile course in a section of the Glendale Narrows Recreation Zone managed by the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority. The course will start at approximately at Clearwater Street and end near Gilroy Street.

Racers will be released down the river one at a time, with timekeepers keeping track of each paddler’s performance. Results will be tabulated and winners designated in a variety of categories–some serious, some not-so.

The starting time on Saturday, Aug. 30  is 11 a.m. but the boats will launch at 11:30 am as  a pack of “honorary pacesetters,” including actor and environmentalist Ed Begeley Jr., will kick things off. Council member Tom LaBonge has volunteered to kick off the event on land. Organizers are hoping other local elected officials will line up with him.

During the summer months, the L.A. River is fed almost completely by water from several reclamation plants, including the Los Angeles-Glendale facility just up river from the race site.

Spectators are welcome. Spaces for racers are also still available and must be reserved in advance. Click here to purchase a ticket.

Spectators and racers are encouraged to park on Fletcher Drive and enter through Rattlesnake Park gate to avoid disturbing the neighborhood. The closest public restrooms are located in Marsh Park and Home Restaurant, so plan accordingly.



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