Whitewater Center helps ‘avoid daily grind’

by Aaron Burns

sports@mimonitor.com

CHARLOTTE – Area residents looking for ways to have fun as the summer kicks off have as close to a one-stop shop as possible not far from their backyard.

Thrill seekers take a ride down one of the U.S. National Whitewater Center’s man-made rapids.

Preston Kelly, a spokesperson for the U.S. National Whitewater Center, said the center expects a beehive of activity in the coming months.

“We always have something new going on, but recently we have just started a River Jam Run, a free trail run that will take place before our River Jam concert series,” she said.

The concert series takes place Thursday nights from May-September at 7 p.m., as well as Saturday nights from June-August.

The Center is a nonprofit training facility with attractions including kayaking, whitewater rafting and canoeing.

It opened on Nov. 4, 2006, in Charlotte on 400 acres of land near the Catawba River and was inspired by the Penrith Whitewater Stadium in Australia. Since, it’s become an official Olympic training site for whitewater slalom racing.

The Whitewater Center’s normal pass activities, including rafting, zip lining, mountain biking, trail running, rope courses and hiking, won’t take a backseat to summer events.

But Sponsorship and Events Manager Adam Bratton said there are plenty of events to enjoy other than the trail runs and the concert series.

“We’ve got a wide variety of things going on throughout the year,” he said.

The center – which boasts the world’s largest recirculating artificial whitewater river – also holds monthly festivals through October. The next festival is the Memorial Day Celebration on May 26.

The Memorial Day Celebration will feature fireworks, live music and two trail races: an 8-mile race and a 5-mile run.

“While we host races during many of our festivals,” Bratton added, “we also host trail, obstacle, triathlons, duathlons, and mountain bike races throughout the summer and into the fall under the Whitewater Race Series umbrella.”

Kelly said the center expects to add more events to its already busy slate as time passes.

The regional impact of the Whitewater Center extends beyond those near its base, she added. Residents throughout the Charlotte, Lake Norman and Mountain Island Lake areas have taken advantage of the center’s offerings.

“The Whitewater Center is unique in that it offers an escape from the daily grind through an outdoor playground located conveniently in Charlotte’s backyard,” Kelly said.

“Whether you’re an outdoor enthusiast who prefers mountain biking over the gym, a family looking for something new to do on a Saturday afternoon or a school group interested in team development, we have something that can satisfy anyone who enjoys time in the outdoors. Our underlying goal through everything we offer – be it a festival, an event or a new activity – is to promote an active, healthy lifestyle.”

Upcoming events

• Charlotte Mountain Bike Summer Series race, May 15

• Microbrews Cruise, May 17

• Catawba Riverfront Classic mountain bike race, May 19

• Memorial Day five- and eight-mile trail races, May 26

• Brew Dash 6K race, June 15

Visit www.usnwc.org or call 704-391-3900 for more information on the U.S. National Whitewater Center, 5000 Whitewater Center Pkwy.

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