K2inCanada's Blog

September 19, 2011

Sep 17: Birthday Race

Filed under: Canada, Kayak — K2 in Canada @ 11:20 PM

I am going to post out of order as I know it will take me a while to write up our trip to Vancouver Island in early Sep and I need to get this off my chest 🙂

What do you do on your birthday? Racing 100km down Okanagan Lake in a kayak? No? Me neither – I teamed up with Jodi, Marshal and Curtis do it as a double surfski relay team. That meant I only had to paddle half the distance and drive the rest. The race has 5 legs – Jodi and I did leg 1,3 and 5 while the boys did legs 2 and 4. Jeff had teamed up with John George to do it as a singles relay team.

We stuffed 5 people and 3 surfskis (2 of those doubles) into and onto our Golf Wagon – parking Marshal’s big RAM truck and Jodi’s Passat Wagon in our drive way. Our Golf is the only car with a diesel engine and we care about the environment. After a five and a bit hour drive with only a couple stops to stretch/pee we arrived in Vernon in time for the pre-race meeting the evening before the race. The whole purpose of the race is to have a great downwind run and ride the waves all the way from Vernon to Penticton – in theory. When we arrived it sure was windy but the wind was coming out of the south – that would mean right into our faces for the race. And the weather forecast for the next day didn’t give us much hope, predicting strong winds gusting to up to 35km/hr (or miles or knots?) from the south once more. Oh well, the weather frogs aren’t always right, right!?

We woke up at 5:45AM and got ready for the race start at 7AM. There was a light breeze from the north when we put the double into the water and it lasted for at least 10min after the start. From then on it was headwind and not a light headwind either. But we managed leg one just fine with John George staying to the right of us getting a bid of a wind break that way. We put in a solid effort to Finstry – the first checkpoint – this being a short leg of only 16km. But the waves were crashing over the boat more than once and we got completely soaked several times. The water itself was nice and warm – bathtub really – but the wind wasn’t. And there was a lot of wind. Nevertheless we never got cold during the paddle but as soon as we sent Marshal and Curtis off on leg two, with Jeff in tow in his single, we started shivering. And even though I put on some dry clothes I did not stop shivering until I got back into the boat again at Bear Creek. We had sufficient time to drive to the next checkpoint and fuel up on water and snacks while  Marshal and Curtis completed leg 2 – a 24km leg. By the way, now I know why we needed heated seats in the Golf – man is that ever nice when you are cold and wet and miserable. The sun even came out at Bear Creek and the wind died down for a little bit. Jeff finished just ahead of our double partners apparently after riding their wash for 23.8km.

When Jodi and I headed out on leg 3 – also a 24km leg – we actually had flat calm water for a little bit and were happily riding John’s wash. He was pulling us all the way up to the team in second place – Brad Clemens in this case, a Vernon local and great paddling buddy. He stayed with us until the wind and waves picked up again – even stronger than on leg 1 – rats. We got soaked again and it was impossible to stay on John’s wash in the up to 3-4foot waves. We had to pull off to the side.  John said he was getting scared in that stuff and put the hammer down but Jodi and I could not push the heavier double through the heavy seas at the same pace as the singles. So John and Brad actually took off on us and got to Peachland 2 min ahead of us. I was thinking if I am ever going to do this race again it would be on a team of 5 boats!!!

Here is Jodi’s Facebook post after leg 3:

“FUN? Who said anything about FUN..try 35kmphr wind and gusting in your face! Not fun..it all hurts. Marshall and Curtis out there on leg 4. Katja and I have leg 5 to go! John and Jeff doing awesome!”

I never said it would be fun, I said it would be a great thing to do! On leg 3 my bum started to get sore, so did my right wrist but we pushed on as fast as we could. Jodi also had problems with her bum and hamstrings. Just before Peachland the wind calmed down a bit again and we finished in a light headwind. But 5min after Marshal and Curtis sprinted off on leg 4 – 20km in length – the gusts developed once more. It even started to rain a bit and Jodi and I rushed to get to Summerland, the last checkpoint since it looked sunnier to the south. Summerland actually was sunny and almost calm. Again we refueled – yoghurt covered pretzels were my favourite – and waited for the boys to come in. I expected Jeff and Paul Hardy (Brad’s relay partner) to come in first but when I saw something in the distance it was actually all three of them. Heads up to the boys for catching up to Paul and Jeff. Jeff had a hard time in that leg – neither of us had really trained for this event. Paul came in first (well the actual leaders left Summerland at least 30min before those guys came in), followed by Marshal and Curtis and then Jeff. The double had the better transition and Jodi and I were giving it all in the last leg to get out first (well 2nds) – only 14km more to go – and not lose the great advantage the boys had given us. The water stayed calm for the first little while and then turned into a long-awaited light tailwind. Brad caught up to us quickly though and Jodi and I tried our hardest to stay with him. My wrist was killing me. And after what felt like 50 acceleration to try to stay on Brad’s wash we finally dropped off. It took a while though until John caught us as well staying well clear of us preventing us jumping on his wash – bastard!! He said he was afraid of Jeff getting mad at him if their team would have gotten beat by us – I think he was right 🙂

So we made it to the end after 9hrs and 28min in sunshine and tailwind, fourth overall out of 17, 2 min behind Jeff and John in 3rd. Great result for us!!! Thanks to my awesome team mates – Jodi, Marshal and Curtis – I would always race with you guys again. Although I think they said they may not say yes so easily the next time I ask to do a crazy race 🙂

Now the real fun started – beer drinking. I had to use my left hand to lift the first few but after a couple the pain seemed to have magically gone away and I could drink two-handed again. The post-race dinner was nice with lots of food and more beer and the post post-race beer was even better. But by 10pm we were pretty much dead meat and had to crawl into our beds.

A good night sleep – rudely 🙂 interrupted by Jodi having a shower at 5:45AM in the morning – softened the memory of the day before. No hangover – nice. But a completely swollen right wrist and a sooo sore bum, I couldn’t believe it. I wasn’t this sore after doing this race iron with Jeff in 2008. Guess I should actually start training again if I ever want to do it again. Do I?

Jeff originally planned for us to do the Terry Fox Run in Penticton on Sunday but we all agreed that that would be a silly idea – nevermind I usually “like” to do this run for a good cause but…. So we left town after a good breakfast at a greasy spoon place in Penticton. I couldn’t believe how hungry I was.

The drive home provided some more excitement. The wind was still blowing strong out of the south when we left Penticton. By the time we got through the connector we had to tighten our boats for the first time . Another 30km down the Coqhuihalla we had to stop again as the wind almost ripped the boats off the roof and re-tied everything from scratch. And just after the summit we stopped for a third time to re-tie. And while Jeff was tying down boats, Marshal and Jodi had to take washroom breaks. I hated to have to stop so many times and get up as that meant I had to sit down again on my really tender butt – not moving at all seemed to be the only solution to avoiding the pain.

We made it home in one piece finally with only one more stop in Hope to get some lunch. Now we are all looking forward to the last Tuesday night race this week – the no cup double cup. My wrist should be fine by then…



  1. I’m not sure why I’m ever surprised anymore, but man – you guys are hard core! We spent your birthday eating chips and watching Breaking Bad 😉

    Comment by Krista — September 20, 2011 @ 10:43 PM

  2. Happy Birthday. Looks awesome! I miss racing with you guys. 😦

    Comment by catherine — September 23, 2011 @ 9:10 PM

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