New option for River Challenge

The annual Cumberland River Challenge is celebrating its fourth year and this time around, the race will be bigger than ever. It was recently announced that the Cumberland River Challenge was officially inducted into the Kentucky Waterman Series.

“We expect a bigger turnout this year because we are hosting a leg of the Kentucky Waterman Series,” said Scot Clouse of Barbourville Tourism.

A project of the Explore Kentucky initiative, the Kentucky Waterman Series hopes to bridge the gap between paddling enthusiast and the general public while promoting adventure tourism.

The series takes place over several months and to qualify, racers must take part in at least four races with the same paddle craft. Points are awarded to racers based on their place at the finish line, for example, one point will be awarded for first place and two points will be given for second place. The racer with the lowest total score wins the series. Racers who attend more than four races have their highest scores thrown out at the end of the season and are only scored on their best races.

Barbourville’s Cumberland River Challenge will take place on Saturday, Sept. 23. Paddlers will be shuttled to the drop-in point at the Bell/Knox County border and navigate a 15-mile section of the Cumberland River. The race will end at Thompson RV Park in Barbourville.

Paddlers will be separated into three classes; Tandem canoes up to 17 feet in length, solo kayaks other than whitewater, and paddleboards. Awards will be given to first, second, and third place in each class, as well as first place overall.

“We’re also working on more things for onlookers that want to watch the race,” said Clouse. “Nothing is set in stone yet, but look for more details on Tourism’s Facebook page and website.”

For registration information, call Barbourville Tourism at (606) 545-9674 or visit their Facebook page at