River Safety Notes

Volunteers on the Inferno River Safety Team are responsible for all aspects of river race course preparation, boater safety on the river and emergency response & river rescue.

The Saco River is a wild river with unpredictable currents, fallen trees and boulders, and knowledge of river reading is recommended for race participants and volunteers. River safety volunteers will be stationed at various technical locations on the river to assist athletes who capsize.

The kayak-to-bike transition point is typically at the Glen Ellis Campground. This year, for the 2017 race, the kayak course is shortened up due to local river and snow conditions and the kayak take out point will be near the Rt 302 bridge (well before the traditional Glen Ellis Campground spot). 

Volunteers will man this section of the course in boats and on land and will respond to any accidents or emergencies as needed with backup support provided by our partner agencies including the White Mountain Swiftwater Rescue Team (WMSRT). 

Typically an introductory paddling event is held the day before the race to give racers a chance to preview the river course prior to the race and to speak with and ask questions of our seasoned team of volunteers. The pre-race paddle tour is free of charge, however, participants are asked to consider making a modest donation to the White Mountain Swiftwater Rescue team (WMSRT).

2017 Tuckerman Inferno river course updates

  • Race Details -  Run leg starts at 0700 at Storyland.  Paddlers should be ready to get tagged and head to their boats at that time so that everyone is in position early.  First racers will hit the water around 0735-0740.  At this point we will have about 80-100 racers coming through the course.

    Kayak put in is at Thorne Pond area. There is NO PARKING at the immediate Thorne Pond gate!  PARK at the Attitash/Bear Peak lot across the street and walk across the road to the river staging & viewing area.  Boaters should be paddling on river by 0715 so that they  are set up for racers coming through.  Darron Laughland and Emma Carlson will stage at put in to check PFDs etc. as racers come through.  Once all racers are on the water, Darron Laughland and Emma Carlson will sweep the river course.  Kayak takeout is at the Route 302 Bridge.  There will be volunteers there to grab athletes boats and to keep them organized as the transition happens.  All volunteers and racer support teams MUST be  parked out of the way to keep the road clear for bikes, etc.  Once all paddlers are off river, we can sort out shuttles and begin to allow race teams to drive in to get their  boats. All equipment must be gathered and delivered to Wildcat in time for the banquet if there are any gear transport left-overs or lost & found items.

  • Registration -  PLEASE all River Safety team members REGISTER AS A VOLUNTEER, preferably before race registration night as this will help us to keep our planning on track and other volunteer perks manageable. If you want to attend the race awards banquet on Saturday night, volunteers that register get a free banquet dinner ticket, but you must confirm you are attending the event. Race Registration opens at 5pm Friday night at Flatbread/Eastern Slope Inn, so you should stop and check in regarding any last minute changes from your team captains. 

  • Please RSVP to this email if you are volunteering for the River Safety team.  We would like to have at least 15 volunteers on the river. Check the River Safety Volunteer Directory web page to see if you are listed there. If not, you can click through on the river safety volunteer signup page here to get your name added..

  • Race Day Logistics: - Typically we have a couple folks set shuttle at around 0630.  Be ready to go at 0700.  Nate and a couple others (Conway FD) will set up near the covered bridge as they are walking in.  They should be ready by 0800.

  • General - make sure you have a throw bag, proper thermal protection/gear, vest, helmet, etc.  We are there to provide support to athletes, and provide any assistance should they flip, swim, or have any medical issues.  Many of the athletes get on river warm from the run, and if they have a swim and are poorly dressed can experience onset of hypothermia.  We will do our best to assist, but please do not place yourself in a dangerous situation.  There is a wide continuum of ability.

    We can certainly provide general route information, but athletes are racing and had plenty of time to pre-paddle and scout lines through rapids etc.  We can assist in dumping water out of boats and retrieval of gear if possible.  If an athlete is unable to continue for some reason, we can assist them off river to a road, after our responsibility to the on river athletes is completed.  

  • Pre-Paddle - Tuesday at 4 meeting at Humphreys Ledge for a strainer removal mission.  "Official" pre-paddle is Friday night.  Meet at Rt 302 Bridge at 400-430, drive up and leave Thorne Pond at 5.  We have some athletes joining to pre-paddle course, they were told 500.

  • Formalities - all volunteers should fill out and have on file a Volunteer Liability Waiver Form.


If you have any issues on the day of the race or questions, like what color socks to wear under your booties - email or call Darron at 603-986-4873. Thanks - lastly: register, rsvp if you are coming, see you sat am by 0700.


Darron Laughland
White Mountain Swiftwater Rescue Team
PO Box 1852
North Conway, NH 03860



a 501(c)(3) corporation
Education Advocacy Rescue Recovery


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