Competition offers kayakers, spectators cold but good time

mlucas@thestate.comJanuary 5, 2013 

  • Massacre Results This year’s winner of the Millrace Massacre was Chris Gragtmans, of Asheville, N.C., while Chris Smith, of Greenville, took the title of Iceman. Additional information including results for this year’s competition will be posted at

— Despite a cold morning with temperatures hovering just below the 50-degree mark, more than 60 paddlers took to the Saluda River on Saturday for the 13th annual Millrace Massacre and Iceman Championships.

An even greater number of spectators clamored over rocks and set up picnic blankets on giant boulders near the Riverbanks Zoo to watch the competition, which drew kayakers from across the region.

A timed event, the Millrace Massacre takes competitors over eddies and “holes” with such nicknames as “Square Eddy,” “Da-hole” and “Hairy Ferry” while the Iceman, held at the end of the day, is more of an “every man for himself” race to the end.

It’s also not for the faint of heart – competitors in the Iceman get out and swim alongside their boats, ironman style, to the finishing line.

The brainchild of multiple competition winner Andy Grizzell and friends, the event has grown in popularity since its inaugural run in 2000. Then, the competition only had about 20 participants. Now the event includes an after-party and a larger cash prize, depending on the number of competitors.

“It’s definitely grown,” says Grizzell. “More and more people are coming from out of town as word has spread.”

Grizzell said part of the attraction was the race’s spirit of competition. Both novice and intermediate racers compete alongside top-ranked professionals.

And the other part?

“It’s fun,” he said. “It’s just a bunch of people having a good time.”

Reach Lucas at (803) 771-8657.

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