RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — This weekend is the 9th annual Dominion Riverrock Outdoor Sports and Music Festival. The festival started in 2009 as a way to celebrate and promote Richmond’s unique position as one of the few urban centers with opportunities for trail running, mountain biking, kayaking, stand up paddleboarding and climbing all within striking distance of the city’s downtown.
Promoters Sports Backers and Venture Richmond Events LLC bill the event as “the nation’s largest outdoor sports and music festival.”
8News spoke with Sports Backers Pete Woody, a communications manager and event organizer who described some of his favorite events.
“Two crowd favorites, in particular, that stand out are the Freestyle Bikes and Subaru Ultimate Air Dogs,” Woody said. “Freestyle Bikes participants are incredibly skilled and produce incredible acrobatics while making their way through the course. Subaru Ultimate Air Dogs shows off the athleticism, strength, and speed of the canine competitors as they fly through the air and land in the pool.”
Woody also described an interactive village where spectators can walk up and try out some of the activities on display at the festival, including stand-up paddleboarding, kayaking, mountain biking, hiking, and slacklining.
“It’s a fun way to introduce people to new sports and show off the numerous ways to get active in RVA,” Woody said.
Beyond the adventure sports, this year’s Riverrock will introduce a new art competition called the RVA Plein Air Paint-off, to bring attention to Richmond’s thriving art scene. Ten popular local artists will be on hand to “create a work of art that will be judged and showcased before being made available for sale on Sunday, May 21.”
“While the challenge is taking place, the artists will be scattered all over the festival grounds, creating plenty of viewing opportunities to see the competitors at work as their paintings come to life,” Woody said.
The artists scheduled to compete are Ed Trask, Matt Lively, Hamilton Glass, Greig Leach, Andras Bality, Amy Smith, Nico Cathcart, Linda Hollett-Bazouzi, Vincente Gonzalez and Mickael Broth.
Here’s a more complete list of the sporting events to look forward to as part of the festival, which is going on Friday-Sunday.
Events you can participate in:
Filthy 5k Mud Run When: Friday, May 19, 6 p.m. Event organizers call the Filthy 5k more than “just a trail run with rugged terrain.” The race is also a pseudo-obstacle course with sections that require runners to traverse through the James River, hop from rock to rock and climb, crawl and jump over all kinds of natural obstacles before crawling through a mud pit finally. Here’s the course map. You can register for the event on-site the day of for $55 if the race hasn’t reached it’s 2,500 entrant capacity.
James River Scramble 10k When: Saturday, May 20, 9 a.m. This slightly more intense trail run moves through Shockoe Bottom’s Canal Walk, parts of the James River Park System, Belle Isle and the Floodwall to start and finish in front of Tredegar Iron Works. Here’s the course map. Register on-site May 19-20 for $60, assuming the 1,500 capacity hasn’t been reached.
Bust the Banks Trail Half Marathon When: Sunday, May 21, 8 a.m. This 13.1-mile race starts and finishes near Tredegar, but moves counter clockwise through the James River Park System. Highlights that aren’t in the 10k are the North Bank Trail, Texas Beach, Buttermilk West and Forest Hill Park. Here’s the course map. It costs $80 to register on-site May 19-21.
Adventure Race When: Sunday, May 21, 11 a.m. This race is a test of your ability to work with others, use a map and compass and use good judgment under physical duress while utilizing interdisciplinary outdoor adventure skills. Plan to spend four hours riding, running and paddling from a yet undisclosed start point to a finish line in the middle of the festival. Unfortunately, registration for this event is over.
Urban Assault Mountain Bike Race When: Saturday, May 20, 1 p.m. A race so nice you can do it twice. The mountain bike race course travels a path pretty similar to the half marathon, minus the points east of the Lee Bridge, but the difference is you’re on a bike. Organizers advise mountain bike newbies to sit this one out. Competitors can choose to compete in the short loop (10 miles) or the long one (same course over again = 20 miles). Here’s the course map. It’ll cost $45 to register for the 10-mile race and $55 for the 20-mile race on-site May 19-20.
Speed Climbing When: Sunday, May 21 Climbers compete head to head to see who can get to the top the fastest. Maximum 20 male and 20 female competitors. Organizers ask that only “experienced climbers” apply. Registration for this event is closed.
Kayak Boatercross When: Saturday, May 20, 1 p.m. Boat race that begins with a time trial and turns into a single elimination, head to head race down the James River. Competitors fight through the rapids and around buoys to get to the next round. The top two finishers from each round move on until four remain. $35 to register on-site May 19-20.
Kayak Freestyle When: Saturday, May 21, 3 p.m. Competitors each get one minute to show off their biggest and best kayak tricks, in an effort to accumulate the largest combined score. $35 to register on-site May 19-21.
Ultimate Air Dogs When: Friday, May 19 – Sunday, May 21 This is a chance for dogs to get in on the Riverrock act. All mixes and breeds of dog, regardless of size or experience are welcome to register and compete (minimum 6 months of age) to see who can jump the furthest. If you haven’t already signed up, you can walk up and register at the event May 19-20 for $30.
Stand Up Paddle Cross When: Saturday, May 20, 4 p.m. Similar to the Kayak Boatercross event, but with paddleboards. Groups of 4-5 racers compete head to head to get through the white water course first. The top two from each round advance until only four remain to compete in the championship heat. Must be at least 18 to compete. Competitors can register on-site May 19 – 20 for $35.
Stand Up Paddle Board Enduro When: Sunday, May 21, 11 a.m. This is a longer distance SUP event on the relatively flat water Haxall Canal. You can choose between the intermediate/expert 6-kilometer course and the recreational 3-kilometer course. Register on-site May 19-21 for $35.
Yoga When: Saturday, May 20, 9 a.m. Come get your zen on in this mixed-level flow for yogis of all just about any ability level (although organizers ask that participants have gone to a few classes ahead of time). Bring your own mat and have fun strengthening your core and flexibility while working out in a beautiful outdoor setting down by the river. $25 to register on-site May 19-20.
Events for watching and cheering on the pros:
Bouldering When: Friday, May 19 – Sunday, May 21 Top pro climbers turn out to compete in the 20-foot high bouldering cave. Past competitors have included Jimmy Webb, Daniel Woods, Sasha DiGiulian to name a few. Friday is the qualifying round, and Saturday night is the finals.
Slackline When: Saturday, May 20 – Sunday, May 21 Professionals from around the world compete in a freestyle trick competition for the chance to win $2,500. One of the more acrobatic, and fun to watch, events at the festival.
Freestyle Bikes When: Friday, May 19 – Sunday, May 21 Some of the top professionals in the country will compete, catching big air, performing tricks and moving as fast as they can through the competition course. Competitions include slopestyle and best trick.
While Riverrock is largely an outdoor sports festival, it’s also a chance for folks to kick back and listen to some live music in a beautiful outdoor setting. For the musically inclined, or anyone just looking to get their groove on, the show starts Friday night and carries on into Sunday evening.
Friday, May 19
6:00 – 7:00 p.m. Front Country
7:15 – 8:15 p.m. Larry Keel Experience
8:30 – 9:45 p.m. The SteelDrivers
Saturday, May 20
1:00 – 1:45 p.m. The Bush League
2:15 – 3:00 p.m. Camp Howard
3:30 – 4:15 p.m. Jouwala Collective
4:45 – 5:45 p.m. Los Colognes
6:15 – 7:30 p.m. The London Souls
8:00 – 9:30 p.m. Hard Working Americans
Sunday, May 21
1:00 – 2:00 p.m. The Folly
2:20 – 3:20 p.m. The Trongone Band
3:40 – 5:00 p.m. Cris Jacobs Band
Dominion Riverrock is open to the public and is free to all spectators.
Got an idea for an outdoor adventure story, profile or event? Email email@example.com with your ideas.