2nd Annual Middle Loup River Challenge & Leisure Float Sept. 12

2nd Annual Middle Loup River Challenge & Leisure Float Sept. 12
Photo by Terri Licking of the 2019 Middle Loup River Challenge. Second annual kayak race taking place Saturday, September 12, 2020.

THEDFORD–The Sandhills Journey Scenic Byway and Sandhill River Trips are teaming up to bring you the 2nd Annual Middle Loup River Challenge and Leisure Float on Saturday, September 12, 2020 from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The race is a 28-mile scenic float between Thedford and Halsey along the Middle Loup River and features wildlife as well as some obstacles.


All details on the race can be found at:

$65 Registration for competitive or leisure floats includes:

T-Shirt (extra T-Shirts available for $15; Registration required by September 1 to guarantee t-shirt)
Participation Medal
Meal at the end of the race (Additional meals available for purchase)
7 Divisions to choose from:

2 Kayak Divisions, competitive (Women and Men)
2 Canoe Divisions, competitive (Women and Men)
2 SUP Divisions, competitive (Women and Men)
1 Leisure Division (combining men and women)

Race start near Thedford, Nebraska and finishes just before Halsey, Nebraska.

Logo designed by Janelle Jennings, 4J Design.

DAY BEFORE RACE DAY, Friday, September 11:

Check-in is on Friday, September 11, 2020, from 5:00-9:00 p.m. at Sandhills Corral in Thedford. There will not be a meal provided during the Friday night check-in, but Sandhills Corral offers a variety of menu options. If you are unable to get to Thedford on Friday night, morning check-in is provided.

Equipment can be kept at the starting point the night before. Due to liability, we will not be providing any shuttle service.

PARKING: Vehicles may be parked at the beginning of the race (Space is limited), or at the end of the race, located at the Middle Loup River Guest Ranch.

RACE DAY INFORMATION, Saturday, September 12:

•The beginning of the race is at the bridge located 7.5 miles west of Thedford, Nebraska or 7 miles east of Seneca. Ample signage will guide you to the registration point.

•For Saturday morning check-in, please arrive by 6:30 a.m. for packet pick-up and check-in. Check-in will end a 7:00 a.m.

•A required safety meeting will begin at 7:15 a.m. near the start of the race. You are required to have a PFD with you.

•The race will begin with the first heat at 7:30 a.m.

•Race finishes at the Middle Loup River Guest Ranch. Meal and awards upon completion of the race


The course consists of 28 miles and is filled with many challenges along the way. If you would like to make this race shorter, or would prefer to go down the river at a leisurely pace, there will be exit points at checkpoint 1 and Gaston Road (between checkpoint 1 and check-point 2).

Specifics about the Course:

Start-Check Point 1:

This portion is 9.25 miles. The check-point is located at the first Highway 2 bridge on the west side of Thedford. This portion of the river has many twists and tight turns, which presents a challenge for vessels over 10 feet. There are low bridges, some you may need to portage and others you can go under depending on the type of vessel you have. There are fences along the way. We are working with landowners to raise them or remove prior to the race. We will update you with information about the fences closer to race day. Drink and snack provided at CP1.

Check Point 1-Check Point 2:

This portion is 7 miles. The check-point is located at the Gaston Road Bridge East of Thedford. This portion of the race has some small rapids under the railroad tracks just south of the Highway 2 bridge. These are not difficult to navigate and are just big enough to give you a little bit of a rush. You will probably get slightly wet going through them. The mile stretch through Thedford has a few down trees. None of these are hard to get around, but they can look intimidating to a novice kayaker. After you get to Highway 83, the river is wide open and an easy float.

Check Point 2-Finish:

This portion is 11.75 miles. This is the most challenging portion of the race. The final mile and a half does widen out and get shallow. This will likely be the part of the river that makes the difference between 1st and 5th. You will need to navigate the channel in that short portion.

“We are excited to welcome and thank our sponsorship for our second annual Middle Loup River Challenge in Thedford, Nebraska,” the Sandhills Journey Scenic Byway website states.

Sponsors: Thomas Co. Visitor’s Committee, CaLinda’s Pot Shop & Art Gallery, Sandhills Motel/Glidden Canoe Rentals, Consolidated Telephone, Sandhills Oil, Security 1st Bank, Arnold Insurance Agency, Western Nebraska Bank, KBEAR Radio 92.3, Eagle Communications – 97.5, 105.9, Sandhills Corral Restaurant.