Canadians win longest raft race in the world!

"Amazon River Raft Race now an international event, with teams from Britain, Belgium, France, Netherlands, USA, Canada, Peru and other countries represented"

TORONTO, Oct. 1, 2013 /CNW/ - Canadians Greg Harris and Pablo Grossi, were part of a four person raft team (True North Rafting) which won the international division of the Amazon River International Raft Race (the "Amazon Raft Race") which concluded last week.  The Amazon Raft Race was recently certified by Guinness World Records as the longest raft race in the world.

Recreational and competitive athletes are continually searching for greater challenges to push their physical and mental limits and the Amazon Raft Race certainly succeeds in fulfilling that need.

The race, in its fifteenth year, takes place over 3 days on an approximate 200 km section of the Amazon River in Peru.  This year, 28 teams from around the world had one day to construct log rafts using eight 15 foot long telephone pole sized balsawood logs and other supplies like twine, machetes, nails, and locally scavenged goods; and then over the next 3 days, raced down the Amazon River.

Each day of the Amazon Raft Race, competitors raced against each other in timed segments.  Each night, teams slept in tents in local rainforest villages or, in one case, on the floors of a local village public school.  At the conclusion of the race, the team with the fastest cumulative time for all three days was declared the winner in each category (with both international and Peruvian national divisions).

Each raft was manned by four person teams and the True North Rafting team consisted of Pablo Grossi (Canada), Greg Harris (Canada), Debby Chen (USA) and Carlos Marichi (Peru).  The True North team won each segment of the three day race and finished over one hour ahead of its nearest competitor in the international division.

The Amazon River and surrounding jungle are home to deadly piranha, anacondas, caimans and candiru fish, as well as whirlpools and unusual current conditions, which can make the longest raft race in the world even more stressful.  A number of individuals required medical attention during and post-race (mostly related to dehydration, exhaustion and muscle/tissue damage), but there were no serious injuries.

The opening ceremonies were held in the local Amazon River city of Nauta; after which competitors were transported by boat to Pescadores Island (Fisherman's Island) where raft construction began in earnest.  Over the next three days, the teams raced to Peruvian rainforest villages Nueva Esperanza and Tamshiyacu and finished in Iquitos, Peru.  Iquitos is the largest city in the world that is only accessible by air or by water.  The last kilometer of the race requires the exhausted teams to paddle upstream to cross the finish line.  Each day during the race, teams not at the local checkpoint by 5:00 p.m. were towed by the Peruvian Coast Guard for safety reasons and assessed a two hour time penalty.

When speaking about the race, Greg Harris stated, "The Amazon River is not a fast flowing river of the type we normally associate with white-water rafting here in Canada.  The river is very wide (varying between 1.6 and 10 km) and at many times feels more like a lake than a river.  Paddling almost 200 km is the equivalent of crossing Lake Ontario on a log raft two and one half times".

Canadian team member Pablo Gross commented, "We were concerned with the potential deadly predators that make the Amazon River their home; however, we rationalized that since most of those creatures live in the water, we would do our best not to fall in."

At the awards ceremony, the True North Rafting team donated the $5,000 cash prize to the Tapaiche Reserve in Peru, a nature reserve operated with the aim of promoting the sustainability and diversity of the Peruvian Rainforest.  The attached photo shows the True North Rafting team with their medals, trophy and cash prize.  Other photos of the team, race and raft are available on request.

About Greg Harris
Greg Harris is a 49 year old corporate securities lawyer with Harris + Harris LLP in Toronto, Ontario.  When not practicing law, Greg is an avid mountaineer having already climbed five of the infamous seven summits, with only Mount Everest (scheduled April 2014) and Mount Vinson (scheduled December 2014) still unclimbed.

About Pablo Grossi
Pablo Grossi is the 36 year old owner and a lead instructor at Energy Karate (a martial arts school located in Vaughan, Ontario) and Energy Fitbox (cardio-kickboxing gyms located in Thornhill and Woodbridge, Ontario).  He has hiked both Mount Hua Shan (China) and El Caminito del Rey (Spain), known as two of the most dangerous hikes in the world.

Image with caption: "True North Rafting Team with first place trophy, medals and cash prize. (CNW Group/Harris + Harris LLP)". Image available at: http://photos.newswire.ca/images/download/20131001_C6259_PHOTO_EN_31577.jpg

SOURCE: Harris + Harris LLP

For further information:

about Greg Harris or Pablo Gross and their participation in the Amazon River International Raft Race (or additional team and race photographs, including photos of the winning raft), please contact Nicole Cristiano, at (905) 629-7800 x237 or by email at nicolecristiano@harrisandharris.com.  Greg Harris can be reached at (905) 629-7800 x 240, or by email at gregharris@harrisandharris.com

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