Run of the Charles Photo: Igor Belakovskiy
There is a strange look that runs across a person's face when you tell them you paddleboard and then explain that you prone paddleboard. When I showed up at the start line of the Run of the Charles. Everyone is grabbing their canoes, PFDs and kayaks hoping to get in the water and get started. SUP racers are getting their race boards and carbon paddles set up. When I paddled over to the start line prone people started to wonder if I would finish. If I was an idiot, crazy or whatever.
Then the race started, I pushed hard to get ahead of the main group, the idea of getting a canoe or kayak paddle to the head or arm. This let the group spread out, I wasn't expecting to lead the pack. I just wanted to finish. The day went great.
After a little while my buddy, Will Rich, who was paddling the 19-mile course, caught up to me. After a quick chat he powered on into the distance. Right before the first portage I met former prone paddler turned SUP, Mike. Then I was back on my own. All I was thinking was that me being tired was not an option. I remember why I started the quest of prone paddling. Two hours and twelve minutes later I finished the 9 miles. I was exhausted but ecstatic that I finished. Double that and I have the Blackburn. I was one step closer.
Essex River Race Photo: Abby Rydbeck
As I said before people look at you weird when you paddle prone, except for other prone paddlers. Eric, the guy on the yellow board, is another prone paddler. A fast one at that. I met him just before the Essex River Race. He is the first prone paddler I have met, especially when he hasn't switched the SUP. I great guy and hopefully a future training partner, as he pulled ahead of me, and came in 10-minutes ahead of me. This race although only 5 miles was a different game than the Run of the Charles. This race kicked my ass, 5 miles 1:39;44. Not the best time. I was not prepared. I have worked a long week, I was under trained and not ready. My own fault and it will never happen again. Wind, current and my own weakness. I was over confident, I have done 5 miles in an hour training, not with that current and that wind.
This race was a great reality check. I will paddle the course again, I will try and beat my time. I will paddle smarter and be ready. I wish I could say that learning something new you are going to have your set-backs, but that is not an excuse.
I will paddle the 20+ miles of the Blackburn Challenge. I have to paddle the Blackburn Challenge. It is no longer an option...
I have raised over 1400$ already for the JWCF. I still have more to go.
It is what I have to do.