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