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HomeNL-2013-10 Kanoe Klasika

Kanoe Klasika
Aug. 17th, 2013
by John Ohrt

  River map
Will Blumentritt and I decided enter the 18 mile Plum Creek Park to La Grange race on the Colorado River. It would be Will’s first canoe race. We trained a little on Greens Bayou and on the race course. The river is very low and clogged with some type of plant which requires you to go far left or right to avoid getting hung up on the growth. The GPS said we paddled about 19 miles with all the zig zagging.

We got out of Houston very early, fueled up at McDonalds, and unloaded our gear at the put-in. This was the second year for this race and there was a very good turn out. I think many of the racers were using it as a tune up for the Colorado River 100 over Labor Day. The state aluminum championships were also being run, although separately. After the pre-race meeting the boats lined up for the 9 am start. The starting line had a good current and several narrow solo boats turned over trying to hold their position.

The start of a canoe race is always a little chaotic, but we got off pretty cleanly. We tried to stay with the faster boats but soon settled in to our “race pace.” They did not slow down and left us behind. After about fifteen minutes a father and son team paddling a Wenonah Minnesota II caught up to us. They were very strong and muscled right by us and built a small lead. We stayed right behind them, and in fact raced them all the way to the finish three hours away. We could not gain on them, but they could not leave us. I figured they were fitter and faster so we would have to outsmart them. We waited for an opportunity. One came. They went way wide on a curve looking for faster current, and we took an inside line. The water was slower but we had a shorter distance to paddle. We came up even with them, sprinted and got ahead. We held our slim lead to the rapid which we ran cleanly picking up about a 30 second lead. We still had two and a half hours to go but we figured we could hold them off unless we messed up or had bad luck. We did.

Yellow jackets
The fastest current often flowed right next to the bank under overhanging trees. Going under one I brushed against a yellow jacket nest and they swarmed out. I got stung several times, dropped my paddle to swat at them, and the canoe turned into an eddy. Our competitors got past us, although they did hand us the paddle. We got going again but were pretty far back. I was worried about a bad reaction to the stings so I took it easy for about an hour. Then Will got stung going under another tree. We finished about one minute behind the father and son team. I think that without the yellow jackets we could have held them off. Our final time was 3 hours 20 minutes and some seconds.

Hot weather, low water, yellow jackets and I still had a good time. We did not win but we had a close race with another boat all the way to the finish. I learned that yellow jacket stings really hurt. I still have small scars from the stings. I will make sure to put some Benadryl tablets in my first aid kit and to work hard not to bother them. Watch out particularly for overhanging branches or when paddling through trees.

Photos can be seen on the Kanoe Klasika Facebook page.

Race results can be seen on the Paddle24Seven web page.

The author,
John Ohrt
   Race partner,
Will Blumentritt