Ask Maria Noakes which “hat” she has on today and it can be one of many: Mom, wife, company co-founder, respected whitewater paddler, international traveler…. oh, and a girl not scared to compete against the big boys-as she so proved placing 18th overall in the Greenman Category of the 2008 Jerry’s Baddle event on the Green Narrows just recently.

Maria Noakes has been a familiar face on the whitewater circuit for a good long while now. It is never a surprise to run into her on any of the toughest runs in the southeast, or popping up in Nepal, Canada, Bhutan or her hometown rivers of New Zealand. She stands out in the paddling crowd not just because she is blond, athletic, and has a full-of-life personality, but because often she is not just toting her kayak on her shoulder, but one–or two of her tow-headed boys ages two and four. Try beating that!

After placing 18th at the 2008 Jerry’s Baddle, we managed to pin Maria down for a few minutes(which is not always easy to do considering that her daily to-do list includes keeping up with two little ones, as well as keeping up with her part of running Smoky Mountain Jet Boats—the company she and her husband, Nick, co-founded).

Wow Maria, you don’t have much in the way of down time these days. So let’s get right to it: Thinking back, when was your first run down the Green Narrows and who was with you?
My first ever Green run…. I was gripped with the tales of the Narrows of the Green, but I was with the stout crew of Tommie Decuir, Doug Geiger, Scotty Lovell and Whitney Lonsdale. Year? That was the summer of creation of Johnny Utah, so that’s a teller. I remember pretty vividly the drive to the take out, thinking if the river drops at the gradient of these bends, it’s going to a wild in there!

Okay, we won’t calculate how many years ago that was…if you will share your thoughts on running the Green after all this time being a mom/girl/stud…
Not sure about the stud part but I am a girl and a Mum (of two rambunctious riots) and it’s all good to go.

What was the inspiration to participate in Jerry’s Baddle this year?
Because it’s a great event for a great cause, supporting people who have ALS and the group of girls who compete in it are super fun and pretty competitive!

What would you attribute to placing so well this year? Training? Experience?
I would have to say that paddling a Remix helped me in the scheme of things, along with Andrew Holcombe and Shane Benedicts favorite tips of the Green, this combination appeared to keep me in good stead.

So placing 18th overall, how does it feel to have been hot on the stern of the likes of Pat Keller?!?!?
Maybe he got a flat tire.


Thanks Maria! Hope we see you on Cheoah this weekend!