Saturday morning of the Cheat River Music Festival starts with a 5K run that attracts athletes, walkers and families from West Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and beyond. The funds raised support the general operations budget of FOC, helping us to carry out the parts of our mission that cannot be covered by grants. Runners start and finish at the Preston County Country Club, cruising along the gently rolling course through the grounds of the golf course, the rhododendron lined banks of Buffalo Creek, and along the mighty Cheat River.
The Cheat River Festival weekend kicks off with one of the largest, if not the largest, mass start downriver races in the country known as the Cheat River “Massacre-ence”. The registration and start is about one mile downriver of the town of Albright, West Virginia, at the Cheat Fest South entrance. The race course travels about 10.6 miles through the Cheat Canyon, dropping at a maximum gradient of 25 feet per mile. All the famous (and infamous) rapids are paddled, including Decision, Big Nasty, High Falls and Coliseum. The front of the pack usually reaches the finish line, Jenkinsburg Bridge, in about 1 hour, depending on water levels while the back of the pack, the slower boats, usually finish up around 1 hour 45 mins.
This section of the Cheat River is Class III – IV, and as a free-flowing river the character of the river, difficulty and risk vary depending on the water level, which can change quickly. Only boaters who are extremely comfortable with this type of paddling should register for the race! Please be safe!