Apparently the influence of washing and waxing my car on the weather only applies to a radius extending roughly to Plymouth, IN. Having done so on Friday, I woke up to a persistent rain Saturday morning as I prepared to make the journey to the far side of the state, looking forward to experiencing the trials and tribulations of Bill & Deb Kanost’s first annual Kank-Pursuit Race. As long as there’s no lightning, no problem. When you’re racing, the cooling effect of a rain is often welcome, and what the heck; we’re likely to get wet anyway. So off I went. But lo and behold, around the time I got to Plymouth, the rains cleared. Temps stayed comfortable in the upper 60’s (around 70 at race time), and cloud cover kept sun issues at bay (although we did get some sun during the race). In other words, perfect racing weather!
In setting up this race in a pursuit format, Bill and Deb had to analyze each racer’s performance and create an estimated run time for the race. Then the start was staggered so that in theory everyone should finish nearly at the same time, making for an exciting sprint to the finish. One fly in the ointment was a change in river conditions; the Kankakee River had been at a depth of 5 ft, but by Saturday it was down to 2.5 ft, and with a strong current. That change probably would have altered some of the start timing (more like the Wabash Race than the Leo Race), but overall the Kanost’s did a fine job of estimating time and we all finished within about 4 minutes of each other.
First out of the block was Kelly Harrington. Kelly hadn’t raced much C1 this year, so she sent Bill a text saying “I’m going to be the slowest”. So they gave Kelly a solid head start. Next was a trio of Guy & Sonja Gilman (C2 mixed), Matt Conrad (Sea Kayak), and Deb Kanost (Sea Kayak). A couple of minutes later I was sent out (OC-1), followed by Paul Kane (C1) and Bill Kanost (C1), and then Matt Meersman (C1) was last off the line. The fun aspect of a pursuit format is that unless you’re the first one out, you always have someone ahead of you to drive you onward. In my case I watched the Gilman/Deb Kanost/Matt Conrad trio a little ahead of me, and I had high hopes of catching them by the turn point (4.5 miles upriver). Unfortunately for me, the shallow water and strong current weren’t a good match for my outrigger, at least going upstream, and rather than catching up to them I kept watching them gradually put more distance on me. I watched as they moved back and forth between the sides of the river, and I tried to match their moves (after the race I found that some of the movement was the Gilman C2 trying to shake Matt Conrad from riding their wake, but Matt is too good at wake riding). But I can’t run as close to the banks, so the current began to take its toll. Coming close to the turn location (a large pipe crossing the river), I found Bill Kanost had caught me, with Paul Kane and Matt Meersman coming up fast. I upped the pace, trying to hang onto Bill’s wake, and stayed pretty close at the turn.
What a joy to finally change direction and set the outrigger free to run downstream! Bill managed to pull away, but I was keeping him fairly close for much of the return trip. As Matt Meersman came by I moved over and surfed his wake a short distance, but he was gunnin’ for blood, bound and determined to catch Bill and I couldn’t hang on long. But I was able to hold off Paul. Paul apparently had a tough time with the turn, which cost him time, but I was also far faster in the deeper, fast down stream water than I was upstream. Apparently he couldn’t close distance on me for the first half or so of the return, but then I slowed some and he gradually closed the gap – mostly. Meanwhile Matt had caught and passed Bill, and both of them were chasing the lead groups. But they weren’t quite fast enough. Guy and Sonja held on to the lead for a first overall finish, followed by Matt Conrad and then Matt Meersman. Deb Kanost followed fourth, edging out Bill by 8 seconds! Next came Kelly Harrington; Kelly and I had a very close finish – I had my bow roughly even with her stern as we crossed the line in a hard sprint, with Paul Kane just a couple of seconds back. What an exciting finish!
Everyone really enjoyed this race, and particularly this format. And it was fun having a race practice on a body of water that’s new to most of us. Not to mention the time zone changed worked in favor of those of us having to travel a distance. 🙂 Many thanks to Bill and Deb for hosting this race practice (Bill says Deb really put a lot of work into this event)! As a side note, the rain resumed shortly after I passed back by Plymouth, and was still coming down as I got home…
Results are attached.
Paddler Start Time Finish Time Elapsed Time
Kelly Harrington 9:00 10:56:40 1:56:40
Deb Kanost 9:18 10:55:04 1:37:04
Matt Conrad 9:18 10:53:10 1:35:10
Guy & Sonja 9:18 10:52:42 1:34:42
Steven Horney 9:20 10:56:41 1:36:41
Paul Kane 9:26 10:56:42 1:30:42
Bill Kanost 9:26 10:55:12 1:29:12
Matt Meersman 9:32 10:53:30 1:21:30