I recently had the pleasure of meeting with a very interesting individual, a man who not only is passionate about paddling, but one who has immersed himself and his passions into a region that seems to only get nothing but negative attention from the media — the Texas border to Mexico. His name is Eric D. Ellman, Executive Director of the Big River Foundation whose mission is to teach communities to value the vital role rivers play in the web of life. He is also quite the activist promoting conservation and recreational paddling along the Rio Grande River with his actions catching the attention of local and international governments, conservations groups and the media.

Eric filled me in on a race that will be happening in Durango, Mexico in just a few weeks. It is known as the “Rio Nazas Regata” hosted by the Durango Canoe Racing Association in conjunction with the Big River Foundation. The 3-day race runs through the scenic Sierra Madre of Central Mexico’s Durango State. Despite its history of 49 years, most Americans and many Mexicans are oblivious to the fact that this race even exists, but Eric is on a mission to change that and is reaching out for help.

The event this year is July 5-8 and, while we are not affiliated with this race, we thought it would be great to help communicate the details and to shed some light on more positive and relevant happenings south of the border.

Participating in the Rio Nazas Regata costs $20, which includes camping accommodations by the State of Durango, hot showers, 3 meals/day, massage, pro wrestling (?!) and all sorts of prizes. Of course, I couldn’t help but ask about security and transportation. Eric informed me that they are organizing a government-escorted caravan from the American border to the race destination.

For information about how to participate in the caravan and for details about the Rio Nazas Regata, call Eric Ellman at the Big River Foundation, 956-236-4985.

Roland @ACK


  1. Roland, thanks for sharing this! Looking forward to seeing who from your facebook village of 8000 is up for adventure. The Rio Nazas Regata is one part Pan-Am Games level competition and two parts family reunion, with people who consider anyone who wields a paddle part of the family. For 49 years grandfathers, fathers and sons have gathered at Rodeo, Durango every July to celebrate their river. They’ve missed two years because of drought, but never for current events. Sports and tradition trump fear of what they see in the media and know to be true: that U.S. prohibition of recreational drugs has turned Mexico inside out. But life goes on. Mexico’s violence is between cartels and the military. Tourists are as valuable to Mexico as petroleum. No one has a beef with us, nor the Durango Canoe Association who have put on 48 competitions now. I’ve attended two of the last three. They are joyous occasions. Relaxing in the cool dry mountains of Durango under shady Sabino trees. Canoe and Kayak magazine has more about the Regata on their website. You can read about it by going to http://www.canoekayak.com and searching for “Rio Nazas”

    See you on the River!

    1. No problem, I think this is great what you are doing. If I had the time, I would certainly be in line to do this trip if only to experience it as a spectator. Now are you actually racing or do you just plan to be there for support?