Baton Rouge, Louisiana
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Paddleboarding takes over Mississippi River

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BATON ROUGE - A 13 mile section of the Mississippi River was shut down this morning as the growing sport of paddleboarding took over the river.

"At first everyone was scared to death. They were lying if they weren't scared to death," said paddleboarder Mark Salvetti.

Nearly 70 paddleboarders challenged the third-largest river in the world in "The Big River Regional."

"Being on a standup paddleboard in the river was so cool, and it's so powerful. You can really tell, that last turn coming in all the way across river the flow just pushed us down river. You could tell right there it was really powerful," said Salvetti.

Organizers Bryan Prince, Walker Higgins and Troy Archer say it took 5 months and tons of e-mails to pull off shutting down the river for the morning. But in the end, they say it was all worth it, because being on the water means a lot to them.

"Living the lifestyle of getting out on the water, feeling the water, escaping whatever's going on in your life or your work for those couple of hours while you're paddling," said Walker Higgins.

"It was awesome. It was an awesome feeling, especially at the start when everyone was together and you had this cluster of people all in the Mississippi River and you could look out and say we brought these people here to our home. You know, we showed them something that's special and awesome about Baton Rouge," said race director Bryan Prince.

Paddleboarders say you should join them next time.

"People are looking for events like this. They do it on weekends now. Anybody can stand-up paddleboard. It's easy to do, it's comfortable, it's fun to do, and you'll see a big following here," said Salvetti.

The Coast Guard was on hand to ensure the safety of everyone on the water, and all paddleboarders wore life jackets. The guys say they plan to make the race an annual event as they try to grow the sport even more in Baton Rouge.



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