Lessons from the GoreFest SUP Race

My very first SUP race was last year’s Gore Fest.

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 mountain 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 healthy challenges and to expand my knowledge of the sport in any way that I could.

I have attended as many races as possible this summer. I have met great people that I hope will be life-long friends. I feel in awe of the places that paddleboarding has taken me 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've had that wasn’t given more clarity and perspective by being on the river.  I always feel renewed and energized.

If you had asked me which race I was going to do at this year's GoreFest 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 also 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 through Eye of the Needle were perfect. 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. She went to shore and tagged the bag so I went back upriver 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 were 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 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!

Trinity Wall is a team rider for Hala Gear.
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