I raced in my first race of the season yesterday, The Little D on the Monocacy Race in Frederick, MD.
Started as a fundraising event for a little boy with a terminal illness who passed away this past December, the race continues to help other children with terminal illnesses and their families make the most of these precious, limited lives.
Paddling Buddy Shelli joined me as we made the early morning trip from Charlottesville up to Frederick. It was great to have company for such a long day of traveling and paddling. In recognition for putting up with me for an entire day, the universe rewarded Shelli with a 1st place performance in her division in the 6-mile race. Congratulations!
I entered the 12-mile race to test my conditioning. This race covered the same course as the 6-mile downriver race with two notable exceptions. Two buoy turns downriver where we were required to go back upriver.
The first turn was 1 mile below the starting line when we turned and went back upriver to one mile above the original starting line, then we headed back downriver for 8 miles (which took us to 1 mile below the finish line,) then turned again and headed back up river to the finish line.
That doesn’t sound all that bad, but the water level was up so there were sections with strong current and the day was extremely windy and chilly with an off-the-chart pollen count. So we had a little bit of everything, paddling upriver with wind in your face and at your back combined with downriver paddling with strong wind both from the front and rear.
Shortly after the first buoy turn I realized the energy and paddling required would essentially make this race more realistically mimic an 18-20 mile race. I adjusted mentally (saving some energy on the downriver portions to use in the last upriver portion) and paddled what I felt was a solid race.
Unfortunately, there were only two other kayakers who decided to race in the 12 miler, (I don’t know if the wind scared others away or what happened,) and we each were in different boat divisions. So I knew pretty early in the race the I was well ahead of all other solo paddlers and only had 2-person racing canoes in front of me for much of the day. So I used the race as a “real life” training session.
I made good choices, crossed upriver eddy lines fairly cleanly and think I managed to choose the best lines downriver. I was also testing out a new-to-me boat (which will be revealed in due time,) so I was also getting comfortable in a new boat in river racing conditions. It went well and I was pleased overall.
The official results have not yet been announced, but I believe my time was around 1:55:00 and I’m pleased with that.
I’ll add more photos and video to this post as others start sharing them.
I met Matt C. at the starting line, paddling an Epic V7 in his first race ever, and I was impressed by his paddling. He worked hard out there and put in a quite respectable performance considering he was using a flat-blade paddle.
The finish line was complete with volunteers and fellow paddlers cheering us into the finish line and then we enjoyed a nice cookout with awards ceremony.
It was especially moving that “Little D’s” parents and sister insisted on having their picture taken with everyone who placed in this race.
I hope this race continues to grow each and every year and hope you join me there next year.