Saturday turned out to be an excellent race day: not a single instance of frost bite evidenced itself, and everyone experienced a through and complete pore cleansing. 18 intrepid souls made the decision to challenge themselves against the heat and some solid competition yesterday. Some were so excited they drove completely across the state and arrived an hour and a half early [yes, I’m speaking of you Roger ;)].
Not a lot of technique was required for this race; water was reasonably deep, with hardly any current. There were a few logs here and there near the banks, but most of us basically ran the middle of the river (Olag in particular, after being tossed by a log a few weeks ago in the Fort Wayne race). Most of the effort was just slogging it out. This year I changed the race to a loop course running between the bridge on Grabill Road in Leo, Indiana and the Roth Road bridge about 4 miles upstream, for a roughly 8 mile course. Roger’s daughter Julie, along with a friend Peter Flohr, took care of timing duties. I made sure not to dawdle getting to the line this time, removing the temptation for Julie to start the race with me behind the line. Not to fear; she turned starting duties over the Peter, and we had a clean start.
That’s not to say that it was a perfect start for everyone; Olag found himself behind a bridge pylon, with roughed-up water all around him delaying his start, and Skeet Craig mentioned getting held up in the melee was well. Much of the gang hung towards the right shore awaiting the whistle; I moved closer to the center of the river and to the left side of the group, facilitating a fast, clean race initiation. As the start whistle blew, I charged out fast and hard, running side by side with Bill Kanost and Ted Beatty. Coming up along our left side in short order was Olag in his ICF boat, with Paul Kane hanging on his wake. As we moved up the river, I moved back onto Ted’s wake, while Bill kept to the right of Ted. Olag began to pull ahead, dropping Paul, but Paul was in fine form today and kept moving his C1 fast. Meanwhile I found that while I was drafting Ted, Brent moved up behind me in his sea kayak and was drafting me. The competition was heating up!
About a mile into the race, a passing motorboat gave Brent and me something of a momentary advantage, as Olag and the C1 paddlers had to back off a bit and adjust their courses to accommodate the waves, but they were back on their game quickly and I fell of Ted’s wake. Brent then moved from behind me and headed over to draft Paul Kane. Brent really upped his performance in this race; he had slowed somewhat in recent races, but not this time. The competition between Bill, Ted, Paul, and Brent was fierce, and remained so throughout the race. I stayed fairly close through the first half of the race, but could never quite close the distance. At the bridge turn a tree blocked the right side of the bridge and so all the turning was done around the left side pylon. A slow turn for me put me further behind the gang, and while I felt good and ran strong, I couldn’t gain any ground (water?) on the leaders. Apparently the competition was stout to the end, with Bill pulling out the win (in C1; Olag was first overall), followed by Paul, Brent, and Ted. I followed a few minutes later, with the Gilman C2 a short distance behind me, and Deb Kanost behind them. Deb really paddled an excellent race in Sea Kayak; not only did she win Sea Kayak Woman, she was the first overall in Sea Kayak – by 4 minutes! Skeet Craig paddled a really good race, but couldn’t overcome a rough start. Nevertheless he prevailed over most of the Sea kayaks in his C1. I should also mention that Paul Rupert and Colleen Curran really paddled a solid race in the Wenonah Jensen, a more recreational canoe. Just over the past few weeks they’ve improved their paddling performance and teamwork substantially, turning in a very good recreational time this race.
Several of our paddlers were really whacked by the heat: Lori, Matt, Terry, and Roger got hit pretty hard by the high temps. Thankfully they all made it in ok, just a bit slower than usual. And naturally our dedicated Aluminum C2 team of George and Hilman paddled a solid and consistent race.
One thing that struck me during this race was the consistent dedication of our senior paddlers.
As I get older and I find aching joints and muscles that I didn’t know were there, feeling it with longer recovery times, and finding my race times slowing, it can sometimes be challenging to keep up the motivation. But then I see paddlers like Terry Pontius, Skeet Craig, Roger Crisp, Tom Thomas, and George and Hilman still hard at it, and it’s inspiring. Most of these guys were once top-level paddlers, state champions, even National champions. But time takes its toll, and sometimes they’re at the back of the pack. But they’re still at it, good-natured, and keeping in the fight when it could be easy to give in and sit at home watching “Dancing with the Stars”. 😉 Great job, guys! You’re an inspiration to us all!
Results are listed below.
1st Steven Horney 1:23:02
Sea Kayak Woman
1st Deb Kanost 1:24:30
2nd Lori Schaffer 1:33:07
Sea Kayak Man
1st Matt Conrad 1:28:29
2nd Roger Crisp 1:56:10
1st Olag Vengerowsky 1:12:43
2nd Brent Ernsberger 1:19:41
1st Bill Kanost 1:18:21
2nd Paul Kane 1:19:07
3rd Ted Beatty 1:20:05
4th Skeet Craig 1:27:27
5th Terry Pontius 1:36:27
1st Guy Gilman / Sonja Gilman 1:23:52
2nd Paul Rupert / Colleen Curran 1:29:14
1st George Tinsley / Hilman Culp Jr. 1:39:03