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“You never step in the same river twice.”
Heraclitus, ancient Greek philosopher

If you are a fan of the Kansas River, you absolutely understand that.

The Kaw, as she is known by the locals, is a work in progress… even by river standards. Bare sandbars you could camp on a few years ago, are now forests of cottonwoods. Cornfields that used to line cut banks are now part of the river, and deep channels that you used to count on for easy passage have swapped places with gravel riffles that grab your boat and make you doubt your memory.

But all that makes it such a great little river. While the Missouri River has been artificially preserved by wing dikes and riprap, the Kaw maintains most of her independence and likes to redecorate from time to time. So, you never get bored enjoying the Kansas River. There are no reruns.

The Kansas River “Gritty Fitty” is a canoe and kayak race meant to showcase this under used recreational beauty. Starting in Lawrence at the 8th street access and winding across the eastern valley to Kaw Point where the river blends with the big Missouri, this race is 50 miles of non-stop tests for your boat, your shoulders and your navigation skills.

Expect to see all sorts of boats lined up… battle scarred aluminum canoes next to sleek, carbon fiber needles that look more like aircraft than rivercraft. But the Kaw is the great equalizer. Someone in a more modest boat, who knows the latest version of the river, could put up a pretty good fight against a $3000 boat that has trouble finding the channel.

Rules are as follows…


Men’s Solo Unlimited
Women’s Solo Unlimited

Men’s tandem unlimited
Women’s tandem unlimited
Mixed tandem unlimited

First place trophies for all divisions. Medals for 2nd and 3rd.


1. The Kansas River Gritty Fitty will officially start at the 8th street river access, River Mile 50, in Lawrence, KS. All boats will start together.

2. The race will officially end at exactly 9pm or when the last boat has reached Mile 0, Kaw Point, whichever comes earlier. A team’s participation in this event ends when they have reached Kaw Point before 9pm on race day, OR when they notify race officials that they have withdrawn. Teams still on the Kansas River after 9pm are electing to continue independently of the race.

3. Each race craft must be propelled exclusively by paddle power (double or single blade) while on the water. No rowing configuration is permitted. No sail or kite is permitted.

4. All participants agree to appear in event related media coverage free of charge.

5. For any “shortcut” to be legal, it must have a flow of river water through it. Portages over exposed sand bars for convenience are not permitted. If the sand is underwater, no problem, drag your boat. If the sand is above the water, your boat shouldn’t be on it.

6. Outside assistance that provides intentional aid in the forward progress of a canoe/kayak is not allowed. This includes towing, wake riding, deflection of wind and “rafting up”. However, limited interaction between the competitor race craft, as is the case in most canoe and kayak marathon races, is acceptable. This will be restricted to only wake riding and wind deflection. No towing of race craft is permitted.

7. Ground support is allowed for racers but is not mandatory. A ground crew may assist with supplies and talking you out of quitting. Ground crew may not, in any way, assist with propulsion of the boat. They may only touch the boat when the boat is in contact with the shore. Physical contact with support can only occur when the boat is grounded. No contact on the water is allowed. No support provided from a support boat is allowed..

8. Infractions of any rule during the race will be grounds for time penalties or disqualification to be reasonably and fairly determined by the Judges Committee.

9. Deliberate littering of the river is illegal. Teams must keep their trash in their canoes/kayaks and either transfer it to their support teams or go ashore themselves to properly dispose of waste.

10. All team members should understand there are serious risks involved in this endeavor. The hydraulics associated with fixed obstacles in the water can be dangerous. Constant vigilance, clear thinking, and quick reaction will be essential at all times. Good judgment must dictate when it is time to rest. All team members (racers and support personnel) will enter this race at their own risk and will not hold this Event’s organizers, judges, officials, and sponsors liable for accidents to personnel or damage to any property.

11. All participants in this race must sign the “Amateur Athletic Waiver and Release of Liability”. This waiver is required by the United States Canoe Association for participation in this event.

12. Entry fees are non-refundable.

13. Teams may not share paddlers. Teams MAY share ground support.

14. There is only one required checkpoint on the race course. It is a mandatory portage at the Johnson County Water Weir located just downstream of the 435 bridge. All participants will exit the water at the north bank in the designated, marked, transit area. Boats must be portaged along the marked path. No assistance is allowed. This includes help moving the boat AND gear. Only the racer may touch his or her boat during this transition. Support crews may not touch any equipment until the boat and all gear has made it through the portage and is floating on the other side.

15. Each racer must have available a U.S. Coast Guard approved life preserver at all times while on the water.

16. It is possible that a team or individual could find themselves still on the water as darkness falls. A boat traveling at night must have a white light available for display when needed to signal another boat. For this reason, each team must carry with them a flashlight.

Craft Requirements

17. There are no restrictions on the design of the canoe/kayak.

18. The original craft must be paddled from start to finish. Repairs may be made to the craft during the race, but other alterations are not permitted.

19. Any part of the craft (rudders, outriggers, etc.) which will be below the water line during any portion of the race must be “on board” from start to finish. A space must be available on the each side of the canoe/kayak close to the bow on which to affix the official race number. Each team may choose their own 4 digit number upon entry on a first come, first served basis.

20. In formulating the rules that govern this event, every effort has been made to foresee all situations and problems that may rise, however, officials of the Kansas River Gritty Fitty retain the right to change or amend these rules at any time without liability or recourse from any party regardless of the circumstances. Should such changes or amendments be made, every effort will be made to notify all entrants.

Questions? Please write…
or call 913-244-4666

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