//BIG Little Paddle Race is back in Reed Bingham

BIG Little Paddle Race is back in Reed Bingham

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The BIG Little Paddle Race is back after two years with a dozen categories to win prizes, a kayak raffle, and lunch will be available.


After pandemic and bad weather the previous two years, the BIG Little Paddle Race is back this year.

2019 First female tandem kayak winners: Megan Robinson and Lily Robinson, of Tifton, GA. 
Photo by Bret Wagenhorst

You could win in any of a dozen categories, or up to $300 if you beat the previous winning record time. But you are not required to race: it’s a nice spring paddle anyway! On Saturday, April 24, 2021, in Reed Bingham State Park, between Adel and Moultrie, Georgia, it’s the ninth annual BIG Little River Paddle Race. There will be lunch and a kayak raffle. You can just paddle along this scenic three-mile stretch of tea-colored river on the Withlacoochee and Little River Water Trail among cypress trees, turtles, birds, and yes, alligators. (Don’t pet the alligators and they aren’t likely to bother you.) This race also has fierce competitors, with one past winner finishing in barely more than half an hour.

“After having to cancel the event last year due to severe weather, we are hoping for sunnier skies this year.  This is a great opportunity to learn about the joys of paddling canoes and kayaks, to see the natural beauty of our region’s blackwater rivers, and to have fun while getting some outdoor exercise with family and friends,” event organizer, Bret Wagenhorst, of Tifton, GA, and a charter board member of WWALS Watershed Coalition, Inc. (WWALS).

WWALS President Trudy Cole said, “BLRPR is a great opportunity to meet like minded folks and paddle a pristine section of the Little River, while supporting a great organization.”

WWALS Board members and volunteers with BLRPR hats.
Photo by John S. Quarterman

There are several categories in which you could win, from fastest paddler, one- and two-person canoe (male and female), solo or tandem kayak (male and female), youngest paddler, oldest paddler, paddler from farthest away, and slowest paddler. 

Wagenhorst added, “In 2019, the first woman across the finish line in a solo kayak was Nikki York, of Adel, GA. And for the first time, a canoe finished first to win the $100 cash prize. It was a two-person canoe of gentlemen from Gray, GA: Wayne Hale and Terry Donahue.”

Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman said, “Terry Donahue was also the Oldest winner, and the Youngest was JRee Bush, at the minimum park age of 12. At the last race in 2019 we had 55 paddlers (57% female) in 46 canoes and kayaks, from Georgia, Florida, and Mexico.”

The 2019 BIG Little River Paddle Race awards given out to participants.
Photo by John S. Quarterman

Nobody beat the previous year’s winning time, so this year if somebody does, they will get an additional $200 prize. Winners in other categories each get a special gift. .

Registration is $30, ONLY available online at wwals.net up to Thursday, April 28, at midnight. See http://wwals.net/pictures/2022-04-30–blrpr/

The race will start at Red Roberts Landing, on Rountree Bridge Road, off of I-75 Exit 41 (Sparks). You can rent boats from Reed Bingham State Park (reservations must be arranged in advance when you buy your BLRPR ticket), and there is a park entrance fee of $5.00 per vehicle. The race finishes at the Colquitt County boat ramp on the west side of the lake. Participants must arrange their own shuttle back to the start (or paddle back upstream after the race). Distancing and masks may be  required at start and finish, depending on Covid levels and park policies at the time of the event, and life jackets are required on the water. Event may delayed or canceled for hazardous conditions.

It can take two hours for everybody to paddle down to Reed Bingham State Park Boat Ramp (West), after which we will have lunch, followed by the awards. There is a cash prize of $100 and a trophy for First Place, plus another $200 if you beat the record time, and prizes for all the other winners. Plus you can get stickers, buttons, and pictures taken by Gretchen Quarterman on many of our rivers and lakes and swamps in the 10,000-square-mile Suwannee River Basin.

BLRPR is a fundraiser for WWALS.

WWALS Watershed Coalition, Inc. (WWALS), is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit educational charity. WWALS advocates for conservation and stewardship of the surface waters and groundwater of the Suwannee River Basin and Estuary, in south Georgia and north Florida, among them the Withlacoochee, Willacoochee, Alapaha, Little, Santa Fe, and Suwannee River watersheds, through education, awareness, environmental monitoring, and citizen activities. Founded in June 2012, WWALS has board members from multiple counties in south Georgia and north Florida, and members from all over the Suwannee River Basin and from farther away. Since December 2016, John S. Quarterman is the Suwannee Riverkeeper®, which is a staff position and a project of WWALS as the member of Waterkeeper® Alliance for the Suwannee River Basin, including the Little River.

For more WWALS outings and events as they are posted, see the WWALS outings and events web page. WWALS members also get an upcoming list in the Tannin Times newsletter.