by IOJ staff
CASCADE, Idaho — Kelly’s Whitewater Park (KWP) and Cascade, Idaho are the hosts to the 2015 Payette River Games (PRG), June 19 to 21. (http://www.payetterivergames.com/)
Mark Pickard and his wife Kristina started the PRG three years ago. Today, they look forward to the biggest and most exciting PRG yet, including the return of the “World’s Richest Prize Purse” of $50,000 for the stand-up paddling (SUP) competition with equal money for men and women winners.
“My wife and I are the founders,” Pickard said. “We started small and each year it gets bigger. Last year we had about 30,000 people. This year we have big banners over Highway 55 at both ends of town welcoming the anticipated crowd and people who may be unaware of the event.
“It’s our third year and we are growing quite nicely,” Pickard said. “We have a world record purse for the SUP events and CBS sports is going to cover it also.”
Pickard said that everyone is invited to participate in the games, whether they want to challenge themselves against the world’s best stand up paddlers, start the day with a relaxing yoga session, compete in special activities along with their four-legged friend or just soak up the fresh country air.
The events take place at KWP beneath the snow-capped peaks of the West Mountains and along the vast, bucolic Long Valley bisected by Highway 55 through Cascade.
The main attraction includes the world’s most challenging and exciting SUP race courses on the circuit, with lessons available for beginners as well as more experienced paddlers from some of the world’s best stand up boarders.
There is also a beach volleyball clinic with an Olympic champion giving tips and sharing pointers.
Along with the challenge of the athletic events there will be healthy organic meals for every competitor while competing and a riverside hot tub in which they can relax after each race.
Pickard said the three-day event also supports a good cause with all the money going to maintain the non-profit host venue, Kelly’s Whitewater Park.
Payette River Games is proud to offer athletes the richest prize purse in Stand-Up Paddling, anywhere. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8RNPewqloNw
According to Packard, “The world’s elite paddlers deserve the chance at a big reward because of how hard they train, how fast they race and how much they entertain. We’re also very proud to offer gender equal prize money, with $25,000 for both men and women out of our total cash purse of $50,000.”
The men’s and women’s winners will each walk off the podium with a check for $10,000 and prize money goes all the way down to 10th place. The action takes place right in front of the river’s rock wall amphitheater, giving spectators an amazing, up-close view of the action as it happens.
Pickard said that with the unique, challenging and exciting conditions offered at Kelly’s Whitewater Park, this is going to be a race weekend to remember. “We’re also very proud to have whitewater SUP pioneer Dan Gavere on board as our official race director, which will ensure a smooth, fair and very exciting event for everyone,” he said. “We look forward to welcoming all stand up paddlers, from the world’s biggest stars to the weekend warrior, for a fun and challenging three days of racing.”
In addition to the main event (the combined SUP Xross and Super G) the 2015 Payette River Games will also feature a junior race for those not ready to compete at the elite level and a fun race for all skill levels.
SUPracer.com recently labeled the PRGs as one of the top five stand up races on the planet, summing up the PRGs as: “The funest weekend of the year.”
For those not of the soggy sort, there are non-watercraft activities that include lumberjack games, disc golf competitions, beach volley ball and live music in the evenings.