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Are Fewer Kayakers Better?


A well-known whitewater rafting event passed under the radar last weekend, hidden by the hype of a baseball team in a pennant chase and a football team searching for an identity. The Timberline Gore Canyon Race in Grand County—part of the two-decade-long annual Gore Canyon Festival—drew a couple hundred kayakers, rafters, and campers to the banks of the Colorado River. For the race’s entrants (close to 50 total), it was all about getting back to the roots, writes The Denver Post.

There was a time when rafting boomed, and the sport was filled with participants looking for big sponsorship dollars and a ticket to stardom. A recent Outside Magazine story reveals that whitewater rafting and kayaking has declined 50 percent since the beginning of the decade, with a peak in 2002 of 3.9 million kayakers who totaled 14 million days on the water. But the current decline isn’t a bad thing for the people who have always loved the sport.


Charlie MacArthur, 49, of Aspen, was the fastest man in the competition over the weekend, so he deserves credit. But the Post points out that kayaking is no longer about big money or massive corporations trying to cash in, and if the way things are now marks a sharp decline, that may actually be a good thing.

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