About 20 of the fiercest paddlers in the world who converged on Alabama this month for a statewide race, the Great Alabama 650, which tests the will of even the most extreme athletes.

Racers face whitewater, battle tidewater currents, and hike around a dozen dams in this 650-mile, adventure-style paddle race that kicked off in Northeast Alabama on Friday, Sept. 18. 

In Wetumpka, each racer received a painted paddle as a keepsake from their journey. Each paddle was hand painted by students at Wetumpka High School.