The predictions were that we would all expire, victims of extreme heat, never to rise again. Predictions are rarely accurate (though some may have felt like expiring by the end of the race). Actually the day started out fairly pleasant – temps in the upper 70’s in the morning. At least pleasant for most of us. Roger had the unfortunate experience of stopping at a gas station to get a Red Bull and backing his boat into a sign. The sign stood firm; the boat lost. He may need to give up the Red Bull habit… Some of us wondered if it was a Divine circumstance, judging by his daughter’s concern about his safety racing in the heat, but whatever the case Roger took it in stride and offered to help with the timing. Friends Brian and Amanda Goff were helping with timing and photos as well, so our humble little race ended up with some top-rate support!
It’s always a challenge to both run a race and be in the race, but overall things went fairly smoothly – although we almost missed two of our paddlers. John Christensen and Olaf Vengerowsky ended up at the ramp on the other side of the covered bridge, wondering where the race participants were. Thankfully both managed to find their way over and we had a decent field. I’m always amused at how each race seems to take on a different boat “flavor”, and this one was no different. Bill Kanost was our lone C1 paddler, but we had 3 K1 Open paddlers and 4 Sea Kayak paddlers, plus one K1 rec paddler. And a couple of C2’s (aluminum and mixed).
This year’s course was almost exactly 9 miles, and what a pretty river it was. Up at the covered bridge in Spencerville, the St. Joe River runs narrow, a little shallow, and fairly fast, with a decent number of twists and turns. Gradually the river widens and deepens, with a resulting reduction in current until the current is pretty much non-existent by the time we crossed the line in Leo. Thick trees lined the banks, overlying the river (and a few jutting out into the river), and providing some decent shade for much of the course. With very few homes along the river, most of it has a very natural feel.
At the start of the race, with the narrowness of the river, things got a little congested. Ted Beatty found a hole and shot out to an early lead, but eventually I managed to break free and latch onto his wake. That ride lasted until Ted decided to stop paddling for a moment to deal with a drink tube, at which point we paddled side-by-side. Shortly thereafter Olaf Vengerowsky transformed our K1 Open group into a trio (and an interesting trio at that, with Olaf in an ICF boat, Ted in a downriver kayak, and me in a surf ski), and we paddled three-across for a number of miles, chatting as we paddled – much to the chagrin of Bill Kanost, who was desperately trying to catch up in his C1. But all good things must come to an end, and at roughly 2.5 miles from the end Olaf and Ted sprinted, backed off, and then fought tooth and nail to the finish. My shoulders decided discretion is the better part of valor, and I faded back as Ted and Olaf went at it – with the two of them crossing the finish line at exactly the same time! I followed about 3 minutes later, followed by Bill, and then the Gilman C2.
In the Sea Kayaking group, Matt Conrad put in a powerful performance and exacted revenge against Larry after Larry beat him at Wabash last week. Matt was 36 seconds ahead of Larry this week – doubly surprising because Matt usually finds the heat to be a challenge. Both of these paddlers put in a great performance! Deb Kanost took the lead in women’s Sea Kayak, followed by Lori Blaylock. And then we had recreational paddler John Christensen paddling a Phoenix (I believe) using an aluminum/plastic paddle. John actually came in just ahead of Lori – quite an excellent performance. Roger told John that if he got a proper paddle he’d probable gain 3 minutes on his time! George Tinsley and Hilman Culp performed sweep duty, closing out our race and coming in with their usual great attitude.
Then it was time for a cookout and awards (and a few people running through the fountain)! Ted Beatty and my wife Julie managed to snag an open pavilion (talk about a blessing, having that shade from the now intense heat), so out came the grill and the food. While I cooked burgers, Julie and the Goffs worked on awards. Most of the gang hung out, ate, and had a nice time with a post-race visit. Thanks to all who came! And many thanks to my wife for her hard work supporting this endeavor, and for the Goffs and Roger jumping in to help with timing and a myriad of other tasks (and for Lori helping with post-race shuttle duty). See you all next week at Fish Lake!
1st Place John Christensen 1:39:06
K1 Woman Sea Kayak
1st Place Deb Kanost 1:36:47
2nd Place Lori Blaylock 1:40:24
K1 Men Sea Kayak
1st Place Matt Conrad 1:31:27
2nd Place Larry Swift 1:32:03
1st Place Olag Vengerowsky 1:21:13 1st Place Ted Beatty 1:21:13
2nd Place Steven Horney 1:24:20
1st Place Bill Kanost 1:26:50
1st Place Guy & Sonja Gilman 1:30:04
1st Place George Tinsley & Hilman Culp Jr. 1:45:56