My very first Stand Up Paddle Board race was last year’s Gore Fest 2015. My outfit screamed, “I would like to make a public announcement ‘I have absolutely no idea what I am doing, but I am prepared for anything!’” I showed up with my ice climbing helmet, roller derby elbow pads, long Mt. bike shorts, soccer shin guards, trail running shoes, and a huge smile that said I know I look absolutely ridiculous.   No one even pointed or laughed; in fact, I was personally introduced to all the ladies by Gentian Nuzzo.  My fear was replaced immediately with respect and deep admiration for everyone involved. I felt supported in a way that I have never experienced before.  Stand Up Paddle boarding fulfills a part of my soul that needs connection, purpose, significance, expansion, and contribution.  After that race, a spark inside me caught fire with a flame.  I wanted more healthy challenges and to expand my knowledge of the sport in any way that I could.

This summer I have loved attending as many races as possible.  I have met great people that I hope will be life-long friends.  I feel in awe of the places that Paddle Boarding has taken me here in Colorado, Utah, Idaho, and Wyoming.  It has been one of the greatest gifts I have ever received.  There has never been a problem that I have had that wasn’t given more clarity and perspective, by being on the River.  I always feel renewed and energized.

At this Gore Fest 2016, if you had asked me which race I was going to do even five minutes before the race, I would have answered without question, the Sprint.  It was the race I did last year so I would have something to compare my results to, it was a section of river that I enjoy doing and it would be relatively painless.  My start was jumbled and not nearly as strong as I had wished, however as soon as I got my board up to speed, I found my cadence.  Ashley Bean was in my sights the entire time.  She is the reigning Champion of Gore Fest.  My lines were just as I would have wanted through Eye of the Needle Rapid.  I could hear Cami Swan behind me saying something about the bag on the shore of Radium, but I had been misinformed that there would be a raft taking split times for both races if you just wanted to go through for the marathon.  She went to shore and tagged the bag so I went back up river to tag the bag as well for good sportsmanship.  Right then and there, I made the decision to go all the way to Rancho!  Cami had a good lead on me after the Radium bag debacle, but I dug deep.  When I am in the zone my mantra is “Strong, Steady, Smooth.”  My breath was ragged, my lips chapped and my thirst was out of control, but I never gave up.  There seemed to be only flat water and wind for the last six miles of the race.  Then it happened, I knew where I was and the finish was just around the bend.  Something came over me and “Eye of the Tiger” coursed through my veins.  I snuck by her to win by not even a whole boat length after eleven miles of red-line racing.  We both collapsed into the water and hugged it out. So there you have it, a lot can happen in a year!

By Trinity Wall

9/12/16

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