Summers in Richmond can lead to some of the best times. There is just something about being in a city that provides great opportunities to become active in any number of outdoor activities. Venture Richmond and Sports Backers in 2009 decided that the outdoor life of Richmond needed to be celebrated. This is when they began Dominon Riverrock, a premier event celebrating outdoor sports and music! This year’s event takes place May 20th through 22nd at the famous Brown’s Isle. Many believe it to be the most fun way to begin summer and get you into that adventurous mindset.
Whether you are an active athlete or just a person who loves to spectate feats of others, Riverrock is the place to be! This one weekend features sports such as bouldering, biking (in several forms), kayaking, slacklining, paddleboard and many others. Riverrock brings a little bit for every one when it comes to things to experience. Even if you are not much of a sports person, there is still lots of live music to experience and vendors to sift through.
The grandest event of this occasion is bouldering. Bouldering is the most competitive aspect of rock climbing. This one weekend in Richmond brings world class climbers from various nations to the capital of Virginia to compete for glory. This sport relies heavy on the ability to maneuver the body in ways unthinkable to solve one grueling puzzle. Climbers must ascend a 20-foot-high cave which is angled in a way that they are upside down for most, if not all, the way up. Many sources claim this climbing cage is the most unique ever constructed, while also one of the most difficult made by people. Each route is custom built which is then changed in-between rounds as the competition goes along. This leaves each climber that continues to figure out a new puzzle every time. Crowd anticipation is always at an all-time high as competitors scale the wall with the only safety for them being a large safety pad beneath them if they fall.
Another very exciting series of events to watch are the biking competitions. Riverrock takes hold of the essence of every aspect of biking as a sport. Nearly every type of thing you could do with a bike is here, and like bouldering athletes will travel from all over the world to compete. These events include freestyle bikes and slopestyle bikes, an Urban Assault Mountain Bike race, and Red Bull Berm Burners which was introduced last year. Freestyle and slopestyle bikes provides a shock and awe for viewers as athletes flip, twist, and spin their bike around over jumps. The goal of this competition is to being able to hit these large jumps and perform tricks while also executing these tricks with unique style. The bigger they go, the larger the excitement. With the location being on Brown’s Island near the canal, there is always a fantastic view between Downtown Richmond and the James River as these athletes fly through the air.
Urban Assault Mountain Bike race is a highly competitive race testing the skills of bikers involved. They will be tested in every way possible. It involves many skills with grueling bike climbs on both asphalt and nature trails, creek crossings, and bends that can be tough for amateur mountain bikers. While it will not be as much a spectator race, the racers themselves with be pushed just as hard as every other event. It is not a race for newer bikers.
Red Bull last year brought a new event to the table, and they call it Berm Burners. This event is a short, fast-paced race testing the skills of cyclists involved. A berm is steep dirt buildup used for turns in sports such as motocross, downhill mountain biking, bmx, and other bike sports. It is an intense head-to-head race spanning five laps and all are welcome to participate. The sixteen fastest racers will be invited to a tournament to fight for the gold medal. The event itself is high energy and fast paced, leaving the spectators to be amazed at the skill of the participants.
Richmond’s James River is known to be one of the best kayaking spots in Virginia. It can be done by amateurs in the easier sections, or taken by professionals on the harder paths. Riverrock takes ahold of the James and offers a kayak freestyle competition as well as a boatercross. Boatercross is a sport similar to a time-trial requiring the kayaker to race through rapids to hit checkpoints. The freestyle competition allows the athlete to spend one minute showing off their biggest tricks in the rapids. Competitors get to show off their flare as they pass through the raging rapids.
There are also a variety of other events to participate in if these highlight sports are not of your interest. They offer a 5k mud run, 10k trail run, a multisport team race, slacklining, and Ultimate Air Dogs. There is a little bit of everyone here at this event!
New this year at Dominion Riverrock is a mural scavenger hunt around Richmond and foot race around the banks of the river in Bust the Banks trail half-marathon! The scavenger hunt is an event that people of all ages can enjoy. It allows you to explore the city in places you might not have before. It is like your average scavenger hunt just on a much larger scale! Bust the Banks on the other hand is for a runner who is prepared to take on the challenges of nature. This half marathon requires the runner to climb banks, run downhills and across rocky surfaces, and dodge whatever nature has to throw at you. It is exciting every time Riverrock adds new events to involve more inclusions of its spectators.
If you don’t want to watch the sports and just enjoy a festival event, there is still lots to do! Live music is playing all day for those wanting to relax and have a drink. There are a multitude of vendors to scour through. In the same area is where Ultimate Air Dogs is and that is always a great time. Dog owners get to allow their dock to sprint and see how far they can jump in a pool with a friendly competition.