A little while ago, ACK had the opportunity to get involved with a local Texas paddle race called the La Grange Kanoe Klasika. We sponsor paddling events every chance we get, usually sending gift certificates or gear – occasionally, we are able to participate or attend. This particular race took place on an 18 mile stretch of the Colorado River in east Texas and was open to SUPs, canoes & kayaks. My weekend had no foreseeable conflicts and long paddles are not foreign to me, but I knew there would be no way I’d be able to participate competitively – even as a frequent paddler. Still, as I thought more about it, the accomplishment of paddling 18 miles began to stick out in front of me like a carrot on a stick. Soon, I was registered.
I landed a rudder-ed Wilderness Systems Tarpon 160 Angler from ACK’s local rental fleet (not exactly a racing kayak but it got the job done) and got in as much training sessions as I could before the event. I had no idea what to expect, but I held onto the hope that I wouldn’t be the only one there just hoping to finish in time for lunch. When I arrived on the day of the race, other competitors greeted me by helping to quickly unload my vehicle and wishing me luck – it was a very positive and friendly group! I surveyed the other kayaks and canoes and noticed that they ranged from an Ocean Kayak Frenzy to high end racing canoes. One canoe tandem had even decided to bring along a Yeti Cooler full of their favorite beverages.
Approximately 60 paddlers began the race together but it didn’t take long for us to thin out. I fell somewhere near the middle and after a while sightings of other paddlers became so rare that it ended up just feeling like a rushed day trip down the river. In the end, it took me about 4 and a half hours to finish the 18 mile paddle. I didn’t win any medals, but I did feel that dead tiredness you get only from pushing yourself to your limit. As I sat with the other paddlers afterwards, enjoying the music and lunch provided, I knew that I would do it again in a heartbeat…just maybe after some time to rest.
Thanks for reading and if you have a paddling event experience you’d like to share, we always love to hear them! Just comment below! – Joseph@ACK