ALABAMA —The Alabama Scenic River Trail is preparing for its 5th edition of the Great Alabama 650. The course will repeat last year’s grueling 650 miles covering whitewater, flat calm water, flowing rivers, tidewater currents, and baywater. The 650-mile core of the ASRT extends from Northeast Alabama (Weiss Lake) through alligator country to the Gulf of Mexico. Racers will have up to ten days to finish the race going all out for a first-place win in one of three divisions– male solo, female solo, and two-person team. Alabama communities can turn their attention to the local waterways to watch racers pass through their area between Sept 30 and Oct 10. Don’t blink; you might miss the racers passing through at all hours to make it to the coast.
First to see these paddlers between Sept 30-Oct 2nd will be the Weiss Lake area of Centre, Cedar Bluff, Leesburg, down through Gadsden, Rainbow City, Southside, Ohatchee, Ragland, Riverside, and Pell City. Past this point, the paddlers stretch out as the course takes its toll, passing through the Lay Lake area of Coosa Pines, Childersburg, Wilsonville, and Talladega Springs. After crossing Jordan Dam, the paddlers will hit their first checkpoint in Wetumpka at Coosa River Adventures (cutoff for racers is Oct 3rd at 8pm). The remaining racers will continue on to Montgomery, down to Robert F. Henry Dam, and then continue through Selma. More rural areas of the state, like Gees Bend and the area surrounding Camden, will be able to see paddlers portage around Millers Ferry (cutoff for racers Oct 6th at 10am) before passing by Lower Peach Tree and on to Claiborne. The final section, which typically takes racers the longest, will be from Stockton and Spanish Fort down past Fairhope and to the Bay’s opening. The race will end at Ft. Morgan, and between dodging ferries and navigating the baywater’s turbulence, it can take the racers two days just to reach the finish line. As anyone can tell you, the end of the 650 is the hardest part of the whole race making each finish a hard-won victory.
Spectators can also follow the event virtually at AL650.com, where race organizers will post a live map reporting up-to-the-minute updates on the boats’ progress. Additionally, staff will share live race information through Facebook and Instagram posts, which spectators can easily find by following official race accounts (@GreatAlabama650) or using the hashtag #AL650.