Paddlers to conquer Cumberland River

The annual Cumberland River Challenge is celebrating its fourth year this weekend.

Now part of the Kentucky Waterman Series, the race is expected to be bigger than ever.

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.

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