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Posts Tagged ‘Boat race’

Mid-race going under the bridge to Quinsippi Island

It’s been a hectic week, but I’ve just been dying to write a race report from the 1st (or 63rd) Annual Quincy 5 Miler Hand Powered Boat Race!

Justin and I before the race.

The Quincy 5 Miler is a revival of a race first held in 1872 along the same route as we traveled last weekend.  Quincy, once known as a national rowing powerhouse, hosted the event 62 consecutive years until the race was discontinued because of transfer of interest to louder, more motorized modes of transport along the river.

Ray Heisey, of Portland, Oregon by way of Quincy, saw the opportunity to partner with Kevin Dempsey of Kayak Quincy and several other local organizations (Including me, here at Adventure Foot) to revive the race.

When I was approached about the race this spring, I agreed to help with publicity and prep work, but I told the team that I was unable to help on race day itself, because I really wanted a chance to put my paddle to the water and see what I could do in competition.  Here is a shortened version of one of my KHQA TV interviews regarding the Ladies Night Kayak events I hosted in the run up to the race.

Safety paddler Ryan Craven.

So that brings us to race day!

I woke up to weather that simply couldn’t have been nicer.  It was cool, the breeze was blowing lightly, and as I drove up to the Knapheide Landing at the Canton Chute Public Use Area, the backwaters of the Mississippi looked like glass.  In the grassy clearing near the ramps, over 70 kayaks, canoes, race shells, rowboats and more were laid out in kaleidoscopic rows.   I made my way over to my 17’ Valley Avocet kayak and proceeded to ready my boat for the race.

My husband and our friends Ryan and Adam had volunteered to be safety crew for the race, so while I got ready, they helped other boaters ready their crafts and worked on adorning their own kayaks with orange safety flags.

After a brief safety meeting, all of the boaters made their way down the ramps and took their places out in the starting area.  The safety boaters separated the racers from the recreational paddlers, and after some directions about the route from the loudspeaker, there was a count of three and the race had begun!

To assure an exciting start for the television cameras, we all took off quite fast and water was splashing everywhere.  A 5 mile race is a decently long way to go on a kayak though, so everyone slowed down not far from the start line and began to find their groove.

Dan Vale and I before the race. Dan paddled SUPER fast and will be in the competitive category next year!

My head wasn’t really in the game at the start- I spent a lot of time adjusting my foot braces and just kind of paddling along straight ahead.  Most of the boats were behind me, so I just took my time.  About a half mile into the race though, the course turned left on to the main channel of the river and I first noticed that there was another female paddler out in front of me.  In fact, she was way out in front of me (far enough that I was only about half sure it was a girl out there).  I’d estimate the distance at about 300 yards or better.   I was kind of shocked to see that someone had opened a lead up that was that large in the first half mile of the race.

Now listen, in a foot race, it’s never really in my nature to get competitive about it.  I’m a slow-and-steady runner who just tries to enjoy the experience.  I’m never even close to contention for placing in races and such so really racing anyone doesn’t often cross my mind.  It was almost a surprise to me when I felt a surge of competitive spirit and decided I was going to catch that girl.

I gave myself a pep talk thinking- “Hey, this is my home water where I paddle all the time.  It’s just a stone’s throw from the place I’ve spent most of my life.  And moreover, I don’t get a chance to be competitive in a race for speed ever…this is my race to lose.”  So with the new goal of, “Catch the woman in the blue boat with the black hair,” I really set to paddling hard.

With no distractions, I concentrated on form. I worked on pulling with my core instead of just my arms and using my brace leg to add power.   I paid special attention to evening out my strokes to maintain my line and none of the drifting off to the left that plagues my recreational paddling seemed to be a problem.  Normally I do a lot of daydreaming and bird-watching from my kayak, but this time around I focused on strokes, watched each paddle pull through the water and even counted sets of four to myself.  It was exhausting.

Right after the win!

Two miles and at least twenty minutes of focused paddling later, and I had to have a break.  I sat my paddle across my deck, grabbed a drink of water and as I stretched my sore shoulders, I realized I had really closed down the distance between the blue boat and myself.  She was just about to turn into the backwater area we call the “Cut” which leads to the regular bay, and I was only 3 boat lengths behind.

With renewed energy, I went back to paddling and, because I was familiar with the route, I took a better line in the curve and passed the other female boater before the Cut emptied into the bay near the Quincy Ski Club ramp.

And that, my friends, is where the wind really picked up.  The breeze out of the South had turned into a steady wind, and with little to block it, the paddling got really difficult.  The other female boater was only a couple of boat lengths behind me, so I decided on a risky strategy.  I figured that paddling in the shallow water near to the island on the west side of the bay would offer the most protection from the wind.  It would add some distance since we would have to cross the finish line on the east side, but I was hoping that avoiding paddling into the direct wind would help me to have some energy left near the finish line.

Kristen and I after the race.

Sensing the end was only a mile away, the other female paddler and I were suddenly and simultaneously sprinting toward the finish.  I was already very worn out from the struggle to close the distance and catch her in the beginning, and she closed the lead I had opened up surprisingly fast.  I dug deep and decided that I wasn’t going to be happy with second place and I got down to business.

I didn’t really look up at her much- I was too worried about my paddling.  My stroke, which in the beginning was fluid and graceful, had become ragged and formless.  I was very aware that my tired muscles were causing me to change what had worked this far, and I’m pretty sure my paddling started to look more like a canoe stroke than a kayak one there towards the end.

We passed the Pier Restaurant and then the Northside Boat Club in rough waves and whitecaps.  I couldn’t believe we were still neck-and-neck.  I spotted the flashing lights of the finish line and ferociously paddled the last few yards until we heard the bullhorn.

I’d won… by half a boat length.

My first trophy since high school??? 🙂

My husband was at the finish along with my friends Jon, Adam and Ryan, and I pumped my paddle in the air once, very excited about the win.  The second place boater (named Kristen, I later found out) and I brought our boats close together and snapped a picture.  We both agreed that without the other, we wouldn’t have pushed so hard.  I’d have never paddled so hard or so fast or so long without someone to really race.  It was awesome!  My finish time was 1 hour, 11 minutes and 15 seconds.  Kristen’s was listed as 15 seconds behind me.

I talked a little with Kristen after the race.  She’d had a baby a few months ago and was just getting back in the swing of racing. She’s done a lot of neat kayak races including an incredible 340 mile Ultra Paddle Race across Missouri.  I guess we’ll put that on the list of things I need to try!  She was an incredible competitor and an amazing paddler.  I was very impressed!

Anyway, the race was super tough, and while I’m stoked to have won first overall female, the thing I’m most proud of is finding out that it’s in me to really RACE!  I realized that even though I’m not in place contention in the 5k/10k/half marathons that I’m entered in this fall, there is enormous satisfaction to be had from just trying to find someone in the race to work hard to close distance on.  Not to necessarily target someone to beat, but to challenge myself to do better than I would have done without a worthy opponent!

After the race I enjoyed a local beer, Quincy Gems IPA, provided by O’Griff’s Pub and Brewhouse, and got my trophy.  “Another Board Company” from Lake St. Louis was at the event, and Adam, Justin, Ryan and I went out to demo some stand-up paddle boards.  I’m going to write a blog about that later…

I had a great time at the revival of the Quincy 5 Miler Hand Powered Boat Race, and am looking forward to seeing this become a Quincy tradition.  I’m also thinking I should look into some other kayak races in the area, because this was a ton of fun.  It goes to show, you never know what excitement is in store when you put your Adventure Foot out the door!

Here’s my KHQA TV Interview after the race!

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I know you’re all waiting for my RAGBRAI recap, and I promise I will get to it. It’s just tough to put a whole week into a blog!  In the meantime though, I have to tell you about 2 Big Events coming to the Muddy Mississippi!

Ladies Night Kayaking

It’s me– kayaking! You should kayak with me.

Calling all ladies!  I will be leading two girls-only paddling clinics on the Quincy riverfront this month at a special reduced rate!  The classes will be $25 per person and will include your boat and equipment, your life jacket, and instruction in basic kayaking.  I’ll also be demonstrating kayak rescues.  The classes will be held at 5:30 pm on Tuesday, August 21 and on Tuesday, August  28 both at 5:30 pm. 

Spaces are limited and you are required to RSVP by either contacting me on my Facebook page or emailing quincykayak@yahoo.com with your name and phone number.

And as long as you’re learning to kayak, you might want to join in for:

The Quincy 5-Miler Hand Powered Boat Race!

The Quincy Five Miler is a 5.4 mile head race on the Mississippi River and Quincy Bay from Knapheide Landing along the Illinois shore, through The Cut and into Quincy Bay, below the course of the First Quincy Boat Race (1872), and under the bridges to the finish line at the South Side Boat Club.  It will be held September 15th at 11 am.  Entry fee is $25 and will include a t-shirt and prizes to winners of each division.

The great thing about this race is just about anyone can enter and you stand a great chance of winning a prize.   You can literally enter any river-worthy hand or foot powered boat.  I’ll be rolling in a Valley Avocet Kayak in fire engine red!  But you could show up with a canoe, a paddleboat, a stand up paddle board, a row boat, an outrigger canoe, a racing shell…  heck, you can build a Huckleberry Finn style raft and grab some sticks and paddle it on down the river if you want to.    The divisions will be set the day of the event based on type of craft and men’s and women’s divisions.

There is a lot of history behind the race in Quincy.   Once a rowing powerhouse, Quincy has a history of waterborne competition going back to the first race in 1872. The first race was a two miler (out one mile and return), put on by the newly formed Nautilus Rowing Club. The start line was on Quincy Bay 2 1/2 miles North of Maine Street. First prize for the Single Scull race was $40 in gold; second was a pair of spruce sculls. The race included singles, pairs, skiffs, and “working boats”. The “four oared” race included entries from Quincy’s Union and Nautilus rowing clubs.

The South Side Boat Club was formed in 1886 and for the next seventy years Quincy provided strong crews for regional and even international competition. Aggressive recruitment included calls for the most able bodied to join the clubs and promises of expert coaching and paid expenses to races. Race boats were loaded onto train cars on Front Street and transported to Central States Amateur Rowing Association regattas throughout the Midwest. The many trophies and medals on the walls of the South Side Boat Club at 640 S. Front Street in Quincy attest to the considerable success of its crews which include numerous regional championships, a national championship in 1904, and a second (losing out on 1st place by only 2/5 second) in the World Rowing Championship of 1934 in Liege, Belgium.

Quincy’s last racing eight was sold in 1950 after decline in the sport after WWII. Quincy’s recreational water interests moved to power boating and folks gradually lost sight of human powered boating as a popular activity. As Quincy Bay silted in over the years (a controversial local topic) power boat access has become more and more limited. However the shallow draft of paddle and row boats provides easy access from downtown to a wildlife-filled scenic waterway that stretches north from town along North Bottom Road.

To find out all of the details on the race and to print the waiver and registration, please click here to visit the race website.   If you would like to race but need to rent a kayak, you can contact me at quincykayak@yahoo.com  I have a limited number of kayaks available for a rental fee of $10 (which includes life jackets and paddles) and they will be assigned on a first-come basis.  You must have some paddling experience to rent a boat (no first-timers!)

 I hope to see you on the water!

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I organized a Bridge to Bridge (Quincy to Hannibal and back) ride for the 4th of July, and despite the high temps, attendance was GREAT! I’m so happy so many people came out for this and I hope we do it again next year!

I know what you guys are thinking… “Where in the world has Adventure Foot been?”

Many apologies for the lack of blogs lately.  It’s not for want of topics, rather for lack of time for coherent, thoughtful writing!   Ah well, we all get busy sometimes I guess.  So here’s my attempt at catching you up with the goings on that have been going on.

By Land:

Friend-of-the-blog Jared Busen and I got a bike ride in just this week.

What I’ve primarily been up to is biking my little Adventure Foot right off!  As most of you know, I’m headed off to RAGBRAI (Register’s Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa) next week.  There, I’ll be tackling just shy of 500 miles and over 16,000 feet of climb (Iowa is decidedly NOT flat!) alongside thousands of other cyclists for the biggest, longest, and oldest bike tour in the USA.  It’s a dream that started when my grandma’s restaurant was a rest stop on the route in 1992.  I was 10 at the time, and I said that one day I’d bike across Iowa.  Now I’m 30, and now I’m going to make it happen!

Anyway, in training for this crazy ride, I’ve racked up 1200 miles on the bike in 2012.  If you’re counting, 1200 was my total number of miles from 2011. I hit my first thousand fully two months earlier this year than last.  I feel like I’ve put in the training to make RAGBRAI great.  I also feel like I’ve gotten a whole new perspective on every backroad and little diner in Central Illinois.  My husband and I have done a lot of training and, though I’m nervous about how hard 500 miles in 6 days will be, we’re as prepared as we’re going to be.  Besides- I have a great plan: Bike ten miles, eat homemade pie… bike ten miles, eat homemade pie… (and repeat)

By Sea:

I also took Jared and his slightly damaged Adventure Foot kayaking recently. He’s rehabbing an injury… but don’t worry… he isn’t as sad as he looks here 😉

Biking has to take a break a couple of days a week, so I’ve also been hitting the water for some kayaking!   The best news about that is that I will be doing a lot of guiding with Kayak Quincy during the month of August.  I’m especially excited to be leading three Ladies Night Kayaking Events.  Details are not 100% set yet but the events are tentatively set for August 14th, 21st and 28th (all Tuesdays) at 6 pm on the Quincy Bay.  It’s my personal goal to get many more female paddlers going on this super fun sport.  It’s a great workout for your core, it’s not dangerous (I promise, you can’t get stuck and you will have a lifejacket, so being a good swimmer isn’t even a requirement), and it’s so much fun!  My Ladies Night classes can have a maximum of about 12 people, and since he’s tagging along, Kevin will get to be my lovely assistant for a change!  If you’re reading my blog and you already know you’re interested, you can send me a message on Facebook and I’ll reserve your spot.  You’ll get all your equipment including lifejackets, instruction and around 2 hours on the water for $30 per person.   I’ll be on KHQA’s Morning Show the first week of August to talk about the Ladies Night Events- so if you really want a spot on a specific day, you’re better off messaging me before my TV appearance!

If you are not a lady or prefer a mixed group and you want to kayak with me, you may also message me and I’ll find a class you can get into!  Also: Click here to read about one of my favorite kayak experiences to date- I helped guide members of the Quincy Park District along with Illinois Lt. Governor Shelia Simon on the river last year.

Upcoming Events:

You know summertime is just full of events and I’m sad to say, I think my Events Calendar is probably missing a few. Please comment on this article if you want an event added!! Some of the events I’m most excited about are:

Run for the Cross:  Quincy’s only nighttime race!  This event is unfortunately the same weekend as I’m on my big bike trip, but if you’re not cycling 500 miles, I suggest going to South Park and participating in Run for the Cross!  The 4 Mile Fun Run/Walk benefits  the Back to School Help Fair providing immunization, physical and dental exams, haircuts, and various school supplies to children whose families need assistance.  Get all the info and register by clicking here!

Mississippi River Run 5K and 10K will be held August 25th in Hannibal, MO.  If you missed the chance to run over the river at Bridge the Gap, or you’re like me and just enjoy every chance you get to run across the river, you won’t want to miss this race!  Click here to go to the event website.

Ryan Craven and I will both be helping guide with Kayak Quincy and organize the Quincy 5 Miler Hand Powered Boat Race

Quincy 5 Miler:  If you only try one new thing this year, make it the Quincy 5 Miler Hand Powered Boat Race!!  This race hasn’t been held on the Quincy Bay in 62 years… but we’re bringing it back baby!! the South Side Boat Club and Kayak Quincy are partnering to bring kayaks, rowboats, canoes and more to take on a course that was first run in 1872.  Kayaks will be available for rent for the event on a first-come basis.  I’m coming into the race with the eye of the tiger and high hopes!  I may never win a foot race, but I’m planning on being competitive for this one!   If you’re interested in trying the race but you’ve never paddled before… you should come try Kayak Quincy.   I REALLY REALLY want to have a strong female representation at this event- so come to my Ladies Night classes and then get your booty to this race.  For more info, click here.

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