Lions Paws for Support Paddle Fest (Fish Lake Race) 2021 Race Report
Emily Howard and her team once again threw one heck of a delightful race and festival, even including some perfect weather to make the scene complete! It’s always a blast to be there, and they treat the paddlers well, with snacks, food sales, vendors, and live music (not just for the paddlers, of course, but still a very cool setup).
This is our shortest race course at 4 miles, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t challenging. Two lakes and a pond, with a channel between each, makes for a fun flat-water course, but this course is long enough that it’s beyond a sprint and short enough that you can’t relax, either. And there are shallows, deeper water, weeds, channels, and buoys to navigate. Usually the shallows of this course favor Bill. But not always…
This year the USCA races were at 10:00 (CST), while the recreational and SUP races were at 11:15. So lining up at 10:00 in the channel under the start/finish flags, Dwayne (the guy running the races) set off the air horn, and we were off towards the Upper Fish Lake buoy. I ran well off the start in my OC1, but soon the fast kayaks were making time and passing me up. Oleg Vengerowski and Bill Kanost moved to the lead, with Paul Kane chasing hard close behind them, followed by Larry Swift, myself, Matt Conrad, Deb Kanost, Skeet Craig, and Roger Crisp. I tagged onto Larry’s wake, while Matt rode my wake to the buoy turn in Upper Fish Lake. I think it was at the turn that Matt fell off my wake, but I stayed on Larry’s wake. Meanwhile Oleg had taken the lead, followed by Bill and then Paul as we headed towards the pond and the buoy on the far side of the pond. Coming into the pond channel, apparently Oleg rounded the buoy that was at the front of the channel, realized his mistake, and had to circle around and come back into the channel, ceding the lead at that point to Bill and Paul. Coming in behind that crew, I lost Larry’s wake as we entered the channel and negotiated the weeds and lily pads.
Circling the pond buoy and heading back, we ran close to the southern shore of Upper Fish Lake back to the channel into Lower Fish Lake. I don’t remember when Oleg caught back up to Bill, but generally Lower Fish Lake is Bill’s playground, as Bill is pretty much king of the shallows. Bill beat Oleg two years ago in Lower Fish Lake. But not this time; even though Bill ran a minute faster than he did two year ago, Oleg was unstoppable and he managed to pull ahead of Bill by close to a minute. Paul Kane was also a fast mover in his SEI; he was just 25 seconds behind Bill. I hadn’t been able to close the gap on Larry, but at least I was able to keep pace with him. Larry was about 3 minutes behind Paul, and I was 25 seconds behind him.
Behind us, Deb Kanost was really making her kayak move. She moved ahead of Matt Conrad, and managed to shake Skeet Craig on the way into Lower Fish Lake after Skeet stuck to her wake for quite a distance. Roger Crisp came in shortly thereafter.
I ran the SUP course in the 11:15/2-mile races, competing in “expert” SUP class. With only 1 other SUP paddler there (in SUP rec class) and everyone else being a recreational kayak or canoe, I didn’t have any competition, but it was fun to go fast and “dominate” the group. I think everyone had fun in that race as well.
Many thanks to Emily and the Lions Paws for Support Paddlefest for all their work in setting this even up! And many thanks to my wife Julie for coming out and taking care of timing the races (on 3 hours of sleep!).
Enjoy all the photos from the event HERE.
Results (4 mile race)
OC1: Steven Horney 1st 42:20
C1 Man: Skeet Craig 1st 43:07
Sea Kayak: Deb Kanost 1st 42:37 (1st Sea Kayak Woman)
Matt Conrad 2nd 45:35 (1st Sea Kayak Man)
Roger Crisp 3rd 48:09 (2nd Sea Kayak Man)
K1 Open: Olaf Vengerowski 1st 37:23 (1st Overall)
Bill Kanost 2nd 38:13
Paul Kane 3rd 38:38
Larry Swift 4th 41:49
Results (2 mile race)
SUP Expert: Steven Horney 1st 26:45