Monthly Archives: September 2011

Number one son

Will he wear THIS on the race? I'm afraid, very afraid.

We’re counting down the days to the race now and tapering off on the training. Well, I’m not exactly tapering off because I haven’t trained that hard this time. Someone who has is my son Christian, and this is a chance for a dad to brag a little. I’m very proud of all my kids. But, this is a blog about canoes and kayaks and marathons and such. So I need to write a bit about how proud I am of the effort he’s put in to this thing.

The new (old) boat. Will it even float?

He started with no idea of what he was doing and on a very tight budget, and he’s put together a boat and all his equipment. As a dad I wish I could have been over there in Dallas to fuss over all his preparations; help him pick out the equipment, fix up the boat, and get everything ready. But I’ve only even been able to paddle with him a couple of times.

Christian, you need to use a PADDLE to make the canoe go forward.

He’s gotten it together pretty much all on his own. I’ve tried to call and pump him for all the details but he hasn’t talked about it much and hasn’t asked for my advice on more than a couple of things. He wants this to be his own effort and his own race. In fact, he told me he wanted to do the MR340 last year – solo. He’ll be in the race with me but he’ll be racing on his own. That’s a wonderful thing and I’m busting with pride for him. He entered in the toughest division of the race – unlimited – and doesn’t stand much of a chance of even finishing in the top three, but he’s entered. My sense is that his friends don’t really understand what he’s getting in to here. He probably doesn’t understand fully what’s in store for him.

Christian and Kristi - his ground crew

On the evening of October 6, when we’re in Port Barre and looking at all the other people and boats, and it starts to sink in that he’ll be paddling the distance between Dallas and Temple, or further than St. Louis to Columbia, he may begin doubting himself. At that point he may think he should have worked out harder and that he doesn’t have all the right equipment – and that he won’t be able to do this thing. He’ll probably sleep poorly and the next morning he’ll be out there in his boat facing the very real possibility of failure. But, he’ll still be out there because (as he’ll discover some time about noon the first day) it’s not about the winning, it’s about the adventure.

I’m betting that even with the old boat and the cobbled together gear he’ll make it to the finish. He’s done everything he can and I know he’s ready. Of course, I’ll still be out there trying to come in ahead of him. So will the other 100+ paddlers. That’s the nature of this thing. But none of us will come in first if we don’t finish and we can’t finish without putting the paddle in the water at the start. I hope he’ll discover what I already know – that he’s a winner – even before the starting gun goes off.

Will she still do this after he's been in a swamp for three days? Any bets?

My daughter, Elisabeth, will be updating the blog with our progress each day. And she’ll be calling both of us to relay your comments. So make sure to leave some encouraging messages for the “kid” as you’re reading them.

Thanks,

Ned

The race is still on.

I’m still planning on heading south in a few weeks. My son has been working hard to get ready for this thing and I can’t imagine missing his first ultra-marathon canoe race. However, the employment situation dictates an adjustment.

I’ll have to cut out a few expenses – like my ground crew. Sharon will have to cheer me on from Shreveport this time. Going unsupported means packing pretty much everything I need for the three day race in the boat. It will be heavier, and I’ll have to set up camp every night but, heck, it’s part of the challenge. Remember the picture I took before the MR340 when I was testing how much I might pack in the boat? Well, I really will have to stuff all this gear in it for this one.

Will it fit?

So, who’s headed south? First off it’s Christian Flottman. His boat’s old and his equipment is pretty basic, but he’s fearless and strong. Because his boat has a rudder and he’s using a kayak paddle he’ll be in the unlimited class. This is bad because he’s facing the toughest competition. It’s good, though, because right now there are only three other boats entered. His girlfriend, Kristi, is coming along as his coureur du bois. I hope she knows what she’s getting in to!

John Markaverich is a guy I’ve been working out with. He and his friend Jim Faler are headed south with us. I’ve never met Jim but John’s really improved since we first started training. He’s pushed me to get better too. And he’s been a great paddling buddy out there on the lake. Both these guys will bepiloting kayaks – they’re my competition. And they’ll be supported by their lovely wives.

And I’ll be out there in my touring kayak. It’s not a racer but it’s great for covering long distances. Including John and Jim I’ll have 13 other people in my division. My odds of finishing in the top three? Probably pretty slim but you never know.

So that’s it. My friends from St. Louis decided to drop out at the last minute. Maybe they’ll join us somewhere next year. Maybe you’ll join us next year? Think about it.

I’ve run aground – again

A few weeks ago I went out early and was in the boat paddling down the bayou toward the lake. It was 5:00 am and pretty spooky out there so early. Every forty or fifty feet I’d hear a big splash as a nutria jumped into the water. Didn’t see any gators but it was still a little unnerving. When I get to the end of the bayou, where it enters the lake, I paddled smartly out toward open water and – stopped about 100 feet into the lake. Ran aground in the mud. It’s been really dry in this part of the country and the lake level is down; really down if a kayak can’t get through. I backed up the boat and went a different direction and, stopped again. I tried this another tree times without success and finally decided to push ahead. At first I thought I’d get out of the boat and pull it but realized the mud below me was so soft I’d sink up to my neck. Couldn’t push with the paddle because it just sank into the gook. So, I had to reach out with it, stab it deep into the muck, and PULL! It took me about twenty minutes, and I was afraid I’d be stuck out there, waiting for sunlight and a boat to come by and help me. I finally did get through it all and in to open water where I had a great workout. That was with the boating. Unfortunately I ran aground with my life last week. The job I took in Shreveport is over and I’ll be looking for another position.  I won’t go into all the details here except to say it’s another example of a company that want’s change but won’t do what it takes to get there. I didn’t want to even write this post. It’s too depressing. But, most of you were with me when I was out of work the last time and started this thing so, here we go again. I’ll tell  you that at this point I’d like to turn the boat around, go back up the bayou, and get out. Can’t though. I guess I’ll just reach out and plant the paddle – and PULL. Say a little prayer for me, will you? They really helped last time and I’m counting on them again.