River Safety Notes

Volunteers on the Inferno River Safety Team are responsible for river race course preparation, boater support and safety on the river, assisting athletes who capsize, and when possible, recovery of capsized boats and equipment.

The Saco River is a wild river with unpredictable currents, fallen trees, boulders, and rapids.  Knowledge of river reading is recommended for race participants and volunteers. River volunteers will be stationed at technical locations on the river to assist athletes who capsize, but not be present throughout the entire course.  Athletes should be prepared to self-rescue at all times during the race. Volunteers will staff this section of the course in boats and on land and will respond to any accidents or emergencies as needed, and will coordinate with local EMS and Fire/Rescue for any on river incidents.

The run-to-kayak transition is at Thorne Pond, across from Bear Peak.  Athletes and supporters are asked to park in the Attitash/Bear Peak parking lot across the street.  Race boats may be pre-placed at the put-in, but athletes are advised that the river levels may fluctuate, so boats should be well above high water mark. Kayak-to-bike transition point is typically at Glen Ellis Campground. Racers will need to touch the shore, then they may move up the bank towards transition, while volunteers move their boats up out of the river.  The White Mountain Swiftwater Rescue Team (WMSRT) or river volunteers will not be providing any shuttle service for racers or craft.

Typically the White Mountain Swiftwater Rescue Team provides a shuttle and a guide to pre-paddle the race course on the day before the race to give racers a chance to preview the river course.  Racers may 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).  The 2019 course inspection is being led by Nate Harvey, with shuttle support provided by Great Glen Trails.  Contact Nate directly at [email protected] to reserve a spot.

2020 Tuckerman Inferno river course updates

  • New details on the river course changes and updates for 2020 will be posted here


2019 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.

  • All athletes must have a helmet and PFD (lifejacket) on.  Thermal protection is strongly encouraged due to the cold water.  
  • It is not recommended to tether paddles, duct taping waterproof material over the cockpit or making improvised spray skirts that are not releasable is prohibited.  All athletes must be able to exit their boat immediately if they capsize.
  • 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.
  • 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 Tuckerman Brewery in Conway, so you should stop and check in regarding any last minute changes from your team captains. 

  • Please register and email ([email protected]) 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 of 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 the river warm from the run, and if they have a swim and are poorly dressed can experience the 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 on the racecourse.

    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 -Is being organized by Nate Harvey. Email him at [email protected] to register or for information.

  • 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, 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



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