Millrace Massacre and Iceman Championships 2013


Every year for the last 13 years Andy Grizzell has organised the Millrace Massacre and Iceman Championships in Columbia, SC. The race traditionally takes place on the first Saturday of the year, and in South Carolina this could mean anything from shorts and t-shirt to down-jackets and wooly hats.

Eli Helbert arrived as the coffee quickly cooled in my paper cup. My dog chewed a sheet of ice I’d just pulled from my Force 8.0 and Eli complained about chunks of ice that he couldn’t shake from his boat. It certainly wasn’t going to be a warm year. Although, with the Iceman race itself culminating in a capsize and self-rescue swim for shore to finish, it’s never really warm.

Big Dog kayaks are a pretty new phenomenon in the USA and people always like to see new toys, especially when they are, a) glittery, shiny or sparkly, and b) there is a cute puppy with a Big Dog name tag (real name: Deo).

Ethan and Deo spent the day selling raffle tickets to raise money for Canoeing for Kids, a Columbia based charity that offers free canoeing activities to under privileged children. There were some great Big Dog Kayaks prizes and a few bottles of wine! We raised over $160 for the charity.

The day is split into a slalom style course down the Millrace rapids (Millrace Massacre). It’s a timed event and this year Chris Gragtmans took the title, taking home $500 in cash.


The second event is the Iceman Championships. This involves a lengthy downriver sprint, a tight turn around a bridge stanchion and a paddle back upstream, then disembarking and running up the bank with your boat to paddle back down the Millrace rapids, and finally a capsize and swim for shore to finish.

I entered the capsize and swim stage in 3rd place but clambered onto the shore in 1st place, collapsing on the beach and not feeling the cold at all. My bitter competitors dragged themselves out of the water in 2nd and 3rd places.

‘We obviously don’t get as much swimming practise as you!’ they joked (I think).

‘Armbands for you next year,’ I said (no joke, I’m buying them some on Ebay).

Thanks to Nigel Graham for all the photography.