"THE SPIRIT OF PADDLING"
by Pam Reinke
The spirit of paddling...it is hard to put into words,
tho I always want to try.
And the fact that we do it
IN THE DESERT,
is mind boggling cool!
It is a sport for any age,
you know this when they start to call you a 'Legend'
not due to your performance
but your time on earth. lol
We have prepared and practiced for months
at predawn hours with headlamps and lanterns.
One month in 3 digits temps
and the next in windbreakers and boots.
It is not without complaint, mind you but
a wavering/unwavering commitment
to be a part of a team.
To pursue excellence on the water.
To sit in that seat and know 5 other people
have brought their best and they expect your best.
It has been a long road to get to yesterday.
We were ONLY going to take first.
A fun exciting beauty of a day,
with a lot of hard paddling in between.
11 miles downriver, as hard and fast/slow
as we could possibly go,
along some of the most beautiful river terrains in AZ.
Sadly, I look mostly at my paddle in the water
or the boat we need to pass and miss most of it.
(That's why I love the pictures that others take.)
It's the energy in the morning,
that always captures my attention,
the colors of the sport,
the beautiful canoes at rest on the beach
waiting to dance on the water,
while we run around with giddy smiles,
in and out of the potties,
greeting familiar paddlers, wishing them well,
and then there is the watercraft envy... (lol)
The anticipation of competition crackles in the air
with energy and a spirit
that is both nervous and playful.
We try to capture it with our phones,
but it is really in the air. : )
It is a family of paddlers,
and to celebrate that spirit,
we were honored with a
Hawaiian prayer and song,
against a backdrop of mountain river beauty
which silenced the very large crowd.
And set a tone of reverence
for the sport we all get to be a part of.
Boats come from everywhere. CA, Hawaii and even Texas?
Single and two-man watercrafts of every kind.
There was even a paddle board that held 6 paddlers
which was quite a sight. Ha
At one point I heard an ocean
based paddler yell out loud,
"I LOVE THIS RACE!"
We all do!
I have been fortunate to paddle
with the same five women
for the last six months,
we call ourselves the 'Phelps Gurlz'.
(because that is what someone said we looked like
Our paddles in rhythm like two arms of one Olympic champion.
So we adopted it.)
Everyone has their job in the canoe
and we are all in sync with what needs to be done,
and when... often without saying anything
and it works.
And we really really like to WIN!
But our race start found us hung up on a shallow spot
in the river and we were out of the gate last.
Which made us paddle 'mad'. : )
Being a fierce and tenacious crew,
we went after every boat we could see.
Finding our rhythm long and strong
worked better than fast,
like a locomotive moving down the tracks.
Consistency our secret weapon.
Although, the river is wide and spacious
the canoes seem to collect in clumps and clusters
and sideways collisions occur,
amas in places they shouldn't be.
And we are closer to other paddlers
than any of us want to be on the water. Ha.
At one point we had to put the brakes on as
two canoes locked together and
cut off our attempts to
nearly successfully pass another women's crew.
Grr! Paddling mad again,
we tried to close the distance
on that same darn boat, to gain on them,
and pass them FINALLY. Whew!
The best part?
At the race party later, those same ladies approached us
and said they were happy for us.
The race is about being cheered on by others,
successfully paddling 11 miles
at any age in anything that can be paddled.
But it is mostly about the stories you get
to tell on the beach.
Every race has a story.
AND We like to tell them all at once.
(Some with a lot of demolition involved right? CO Ed team.
The race party is the prize.
Outside under a beautiful blue November sky
with happy happy people raising a cheer
to one another and the day we all had.
Good food and yikes, flavored whiskey shots?
What was I thinking?
We like to win, everyone does
but the win is really in the collective spirit
that brings everyone together to
enjoy a competitive Ohana kind of day
on the river.
Thanks to everyone who chose to be a part of it.
It was a BEAUTY!!
Saturday, November 2nd, 2019
We love our race weekend. But more importantly, we want to make sure you love it too! Thank you for all the feedback over the years to help it improve. And for the testimonials about how it was so much fun!
Congrats one another great race and venue. I am sure getting this all together is a lot of work and sleepless nights.
My husband and I have raced for 3 years now and each race has been a blast. We are part of O’Side canoe club and we really showed up with 10 0c6 canoes as well as our OC2 and OC1. Our club loves supporting the race. Thanks again
Mary Bisson and Ken Smith