California Race Preview - Another Dam Race (ADR)

[This series of race previews is an effort to share experiences from, and info about, races that comprise various races for OC, Surf-Ski, SUP and Prone Paddlers. We would very much like to offer this for races throughout all of California and invite anyone who might wish to be a regular contributor with knowledge of the races there to contact us. * Information may have changed or be different on race day. So consider this a friendly free guide, and please do not run up to the race organizers if something is different, and say "Cali Paddler says it is different" as we are not the ones putting on the race. They are. And we are grateful to them for that!]

Another Dam Race ADRAnother Dam Race (ADR) - Parker Arizona

For those of you who haven’t paddled Another Dam Race (ADR), you are probably wondering what it is all about. So, having gone last year and gotten the first hand experience, we wanted to share with you some answers to common questions that we had, and you might too.

What is this race?
Picture a chance to paddle down the Colorado river. After the summer race season has quieted down, but before it gets cold, dark and dreary. Then picture a point to point race instead of buoy turns and loops. With a paddler dominated scene along the banks of the river, and surrounding area. That pretty much sums it all up. Another Dam Race, or ADR for those in the know, is a chance to get your favorite people together for an oc6 crew, or paddle SUP or OC1 alongside tons of friends as you race with the current to a finish at a resort with food, drinks, and yes, even a water-slide.

ADR - Another Dam Race - Preview

What is the temperature and environment like?
Being on the border of California and Arizona, some might have the impression we are in the middle of the desert. And to get here, you definitely cross from pretty desert like regions. But the river creates a pretty cool green and blue oasis to spend the entire time at. Cottonwood trees and red-rock hillsides line the banks of the river as it winds along its course. As far as temperature, the timing of the event (November) is pretty much perfect. The year we went it was high low 80’s with a breeze.

Does the water flow fast enough to help?
We aren’t gonna lie, we had visions of a class 3 rapids, ripping down hill and us just going paddles up for the entire 10 or so miles. That said the rapids were not there to ride as the flow is pretty chill with such a wide river. If they open up the dam a bit though as they often do in coordination with the event, it helps! But don’t expect it to be significant enough to break your personal speed records without paddling. There are also lots of boats screaming down the river and they help wiht wakes at times. Factor in as well that the fact that it is fresh water, (less buoyant than salt-water), and you are looking at a slightly faster to pretty neutral environment.

ADR - Another Dam Race - Preview

What is the whole race scene and setup like?
The Start - So, this is a point to point race. It starts at a camping resort park along the banks of the river just below the Parker Dam. This is a great place to camp during your stay at the race, and the morning of expect it to be buzzing full of paddlers as folks unload SUPs, rig canoes, and hop into the water for the start. The campground has tent sites, RV sites and some cabins. Did we mention there are also resident burros? Yah, expect to have a friendly burro wander beside you during your stay, and watch your step as they sometimes leave droppings to dodge. That said they are super friendly and are part of a pretty cool place to camp and start the race!

ADR - Another Dam Race - Preview

Finish - The race finish is 10 or so miles down river at the Bluewater Casino and RV park. You cross the line, beach your craft and celebrate along the water in one of the picnic table cabanas or popups that folks have setup. Once you are done with the water, head 100 yards or so to a grassy amphitheater and enjoy the post part food, drinks, awards and raffle prizes. See more about the after-party below.

ADR - Another Dam Race - Preview
ADR - Another Dam Race - Preview

Paddlers often get rooms at the hotel/casino right at the finish, and stay there to enjoy the restaurants and 4 story indoor water-slide. Yep, water slide!!! There is also an RV campsite next-door to the casino by the finish line where paddlers can stay, and enjoy the night. No tent camping is allowed here however. Others head back to the start area to camp again.

Is there an after-party?
The whole race scene is very fun, and because it is a destination race for most people, paddlers make a weekend out of it. A big focal point being the awesome after-party at the race finish. AMAZING food. Lots of drinks, alcoholic and non-alcoholic, are included. Music and a pretty fun scene. When I went last year I had two kids and they were running around the grassy amphitheater for hours having a blast.  Certainly family friendly. That said, there was a margarita line as well, so rest-assured the adult kids can play to. :)

Supposedly there is even an after-after party being hosted this year with shuttle transport to start from finish lines, but I am not sure of the details of that yet. But rest assured, paddlers will have plenty of fun folks to hang out with in every direction until the race weariness kicks in and you choose to turn in.

ADR - Another Dam Race - Preview

Is there good competition and turn-out?
I think last year there were 700 entries. Outrigger teams, individuals, men, women, kids, SUPs with 6 paddlers, you name it. It is a very fun race, but you can expect to have some really good paddlers there to push you hard and fast. In years past paddling studs like Dave Boehne, Anthony Vela, Jenny Sandvig, Kristin Thomas and Wendy DeWitt came and set the bar pretty high, so if you have chased those folks in the past, you know the level of talent you can expect. Also throw in outrigger teams from Dana, Lanakila and tons of other great clubs, and you can be sure the leaderboard will have some talented folks.

ADR - Another Dam Race - Preview

That said, I can’t stress enough what a fun vibe this race puts off. Everyone crossing the finish line is likely to get splashed and cheered by others when they get to the end. With plenty of friendly banter on the water during the race. Last year I heard of several friendly 'mid-race' wagers made between paddlers with the loser buying the next round or other fun interactions. With this being the end of the season for many paddlers, its kind of a fun no pressure chance to enjoy the water with hundreds of paddling friends, go real fast, and hang out after. Shouldn’t all races be like that?

Some feedback from Cali Paddlers who have attended in the past that we reached out to for their impressions:

"This was a bucket list race and didn't disappoint"
"ADR is one of our favorite races!"
"ADR BBQ Tri-Tip is the 'best race plate'"
"The perfect end to the season"
"Fun how all the paddle families race together"
"A relaxed-competitive event"

Random tidbits about the race after talking to the race director...

  • They had a proposal one year at the finish line (she said "yes")
  • A SUP racer from Colorado partially paralyzed used ADR as an incentive race to train for.
  • A couple had a wedding anniversary and planned to race ADR together.
  • Teams will make ADR inspired hats and gear for it each year they race.
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