Monday, May 31, 2010

SD Kayak Challenge 2010

My Sea Wind waiting to launch.
This was the beginning of the South Dakota Kayak Challenge. This was a 75 mile race from Yankton, SD to Sioux City, IA on the Missouri River. There were four checkpoints along the way where I could resupply with water and ice, which was pretty nice considering the 90 degree temps. Saturday morning at 7:00 the race started to a volley fired from the dock, and the serious racers were quickly gone. I launched about a minute after them. At first the river was good to us. Easy paddling, light breeze, good current, and cool air.

This was the scene a couple miles into the race. It wasn't long though, until we all rounded the corner and were faced with brutal headwinds of 20+ miles per hour, with even stronger gusts. Racers had to fight for every inch in water that was often only ankle deep, and covered in waves. I paddled with some fellow Minnesotans for the first few miles, then decided I was going to push on, and started going a little harder. I passed a few people before the first checkpoint 17 miles into the race, but by the second checkpoint my race position was pretty much set. By the third checkpoint I was paddling with two people from Iowa, and remained with them till the finish. It really helps to have someone with you to keep your spirits up when the going gets tough, and the going was not easy. We fought the relentless headwinds all day, sandbars hidden in the waves, whirlpools, and fatigue. We all finally made it to the finish line at 9:50 pm, to great relief. I managed to get the last remaining room at the Hilton in Sioux City, and it was needed. All in all, it was a pretty good time, very hard but rewarding at the end. I think it will be a annual trip for me.

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