{KAW100 Race Recap}

Monday, July 25, 2011

Hey Homies! Thank you so much for your patience these past few days as we've been adjusting to being back in Dallas from our race. The KAW100 was quite an adventure to say the least! 

Last Wednesday Tim and I packed up the car and drove to Wichita to spend the evening with my oldest sister, Jen, and her family. Breaking up our 9 hour drive was such a blessing, especially since we got to spend time at the pool.

Tim tried to teach my nephew Jack how to hold his breath under water.  This was as close as he got.

Remember when I told you that Mr. Loerke likes to perform tricks before leaving the pool? Well, I wasn't kidding. Reason #327 why you can never take the boy out of the man.

The next morning we drove to Lawrence to meet up with my Papa and youngest brother Campbell. Pretty sure we filled up the Exploder 7 times on this trip.

For lunch we decided to stop at Yello Sub. I had been craving their creamy turkey for a month!

Afterwards we drove the race route in reverse to Manhattan so we could be familiar with all of the checkpoints. This is the Topeka Coffer Dam.

My Papa showed me how to successfully portage the dam to avoid all possibilities of paddling too close to the power plant. 

After checking out the boat ramps in Wamego, Maple Hill, Topeka, and Lecompton we decided to stop at Kreem Kup for some shakes.

Have you ever eaten here before? Holy 50's AWESOMENESS, Batman. 

Once in Manhattan we decided it was time to pimp the Exploder with some shoe polish. After all, Branch Burress McKeaigg is kind of a big deal.

After attending our race safety meeting on Friday we unloaded the boat at the starting ramp.

My dad and Tim went over our check list. I couldn't have asked for a better ground crew!

They set up my bow lights.

And rigged my GoPro's, GPS, and prepared my food / water.

While waiting at the start we got to meet Tim's 5th cousins who paddled 61mi of the KAW100 in their homemade wooden pirough. Talk about a tough group of men!

I also got the chance to meet my paddling hero Kaity Pfefferkorn. She paddled with Di McHenry and ended up coming in first for women's tandem. So proud of you, Little!

Then guess who showed up?! TEAM McKEAIGG!

Everyone was so excited to meet and hold Branch. Seeing him made everything about the last 6 months seem worth it.

Eventually it was time to get in the water and wait for the start.

I knew when I left the ramp that even if I didn't finish I had already won.

So much about the last six months has been a growing experience filled with unexpected turns and obstacles. Seeing my friends and family at the start was something I'll always remember.

Finally, they blew the canon and we were off!

I felt strong and was determined to make it to Wamego before dark.

Pictured here is Karen Exon, age 58, who ended up placing first in women's solo. Talk about a machine.

The first 20 miles were filled with sunshine and lots of friendly bantering back and forth between paddlers.

I sipped water every 5-10 minutes and felt surprisingly cool in the 102° heat.

I also drank a mixture of Spiz every 3-4 hours which was packed with 1,400 calories to keep me going. When you paddle you burn about 625 calories per hour, so it's imperative to keep your belly full.

At 8:47pm I made it to Wamego where Tim and my dad switched out my water, Spiz, and food bag.

By 8:55pm I was headed out to paddle the next 20 mi stretch to Maple Hill. Physically I felt great but mentally I was anxious about being on the river at night. I had never paddled in the dark before, let alone on a river that was 1 ft deep in some places and filled with sandbars, concrete, and rebar.

If it weren't for Kent & Kevin I'm convinced I'd still be stuck out on a sandbar somewhere. We paddled together for close to 5 hours and Kent pulled me out of at least 20 or more sandbars. They were the wind beneath my wings.

Around 2:30am we finally made it to Maple Hill. This was where I decided to bow out of the race. I was in 2nd place, but I didn't think it was worth pushing myself for another 5 hours at the risk of ruining the borrowed boat I was paddling, or even injuring myself. Sometimes you just have to know when to fold.

The next morning Kent, Em, Tim and I went to welcome in all the finishers. Out of 114 boats only 79 finished. The KAW100 has since been appropriately named the "Devil's Waterpark" after all of the people (and boats) it destroyed. Some estimate $20,000 worth of ripped hulls and gashed yaks.

After paddling 42 miles I have so much respect for anyone who attempted this race. My buddy West came in 1st place finishing the entire race in just 15 hrs and 4 minutes. It almost ate him alive, but he did it and we couldn't be more proud of him!

Tim's mom and youngest sister Becka drove all the way from Tulsa to be there for the finish. I couldn't have felt more loved.

It's crazy to think this adventure all began with an idea to enter a kayak race to help raise money for our friend's adoption. Six months ago Em and I couldn't even tell you the difference between a single and double blade paddle. Now Kent & Em now have their adoption fees paid in full and a baby to boot. What an incredible gift.

Some of you have asked if I will continue paddling now that the race is over. The answer is YES! I have grown to love it and plan on participating in more races once I get my own boat.

Thanks again to our many wonderful sponsors. Without you none of this would have been possible. And fist pumps and leg kicks to the paddling community who made this "DNF novice" feel like she had crossed the finish line. Ya'll are top notch.

Over and out,


The Mrs. said...

Way to go! A feat to be proud of for sure!!!

Becca said...

So proud of you Em! Love your positive attitude the whole way through!

Barbara said...

You accomplished more in six months than many of us do in six years (or never). You are my hero. Congratulations on a job well done!!

Anonymous said...

I read this with tears for the amazing job you did. You really are walking the talk through this journey for your friend. Awesome job!

Anonymous said...

You are strong and of good courage, unafraid for you know the One Who leads you. May the events of the past 6 months remain as a standing stone in the lives of Teams Loerke and McKeaigg. And to boot, Branch has a great story to tell about his arrival. To God be the glory.

Shannon said...

Reason #468 why I respect and admire you.

Melissa said...

What an awesome post! I don't even know you except for reading your blog and yet I am so proud of you for what you accomplished! Thank you for sharing your story with us. I think you are amazing and so are the guys that helped you through the night. It's so great to hear stories of people being helpful and selfless. I pretty much live in the land of rude people and 'takers' and it is hard to have a heart of compassion which I pray for daily. Way to go!

wildchild said...

look at you go! you seem like such a strong woman, and how blessed are you to have a family of supporters who love you like that. i don't even know you, but im proud of you :)

missjabok said...

what an adventure! mighty pleased and proud of you and your awesome support crew. much love to baby branch xx

Anonymous said...

WTG Little!
How fun, all the way around. :)

Amanda said...

Amazing job!!!

Autumn Star said...

Emily, you are amazing, and I love you even more for knowing the limits of safety and sanity. You did amazing, and it was just the first of many races you will participate in I am sure. Awesome post, and I love all the pictures. :)

Anne said...

Congratulations! What an amazing journey. I am so inspired by your love and commitment to your friends and their little boy.

Brooke said...

You dear are a total stud. Em and Kent couldn't have better friends than team Loerke. What an amazing testimony to friendship, faith, perseverance and pure badassness. Way to go! So very proud of you and this amazing journey that you embarked upon for the entire world to see. What an amazing witness you are to the love and strength of Christ. xo

Anonymous said...

you did a great job, and showed real strength by showing up at the finish. A lesser man would have headed home.
I'm so proud of you!
Love, Vic

Ali May said...

I created a twitter account just to follow your adventures, and I'm crazy proud. And now inspired to do something like this myself. Fist pumps and leg kicks!

Stacy said...

Em-- I was ground crew for another boat & saw you at the race, you go girl!! So glad I found your blog.
What you did was quite an accomplishment! Pure awesomeness with a side of crazy. I love it!

Chelle Lynn said...

What an amazing accomplishment! You guys are such an inspiration. Congrats on all you've accomplished!!

Meg said...

That picture of Tim and the little boy trying to hold his breath was hilarious.

LOL...the real kind

dhhargrove said...

Said it before will say it again...You guys totally ROCK! Emily, what an inspiration you are. It was such a kick following your "dot", and made even more fun when I got to show numerous people what you were doing and tell them why you were doing it.

tracking Team Loerke has inspired me to get off my duff and look for challenges. Found a Warrior Dash in November that is within driving distance.


Kristen said...

You are such an inspiration - and what a cool sport! Congrats on making it as far as you did! What a tough race!

beKah said...

Way to Go! Enjoyed the recap with pics!! I think you can call it a SUCCESS! Hope you get your boat soon!

kelly said...

hip hip hooray for you!!!
what an accomplishment. As someone who is adopting and raising funds for it, I love your heart for your friends and their sweet baby. We're blessed with some generous friends, too, and it means the world to have their support on this journey.

Go Em!!

Jennifer K said...

What an amazing accomplishment, Em!! I loved reading the story, and I was thinking about you in that heat!

Sam {fitnessfoodandfaith.blogspot.com} said...

you're a rockstar!! great job :)

The 1st of May said...

Congrats!!! You are AWESOME!

Of Revolt said...

Yay! So glad you're back! That's an amazing accomplishment, and I am so impressed with the dedication you've showed to this race and to your friends over the last six months! Way to go!

Katie M. said...

Emily, you all are inspiring!

chocolatebooks said...

You are amazing and an inspiration! Great job!

Kim said...

congrats on owning that race ((and for such a baller cause!))

annie said...

Good work, Emily! What an accomplishment and for such an amazing cause. Your selflessness and perseverance are endearing and inspirational!

Ingrid @ thesunnyside.me said...

such a huge accomplishment!

and that baby....oh that sweet baby is his mama's arms!

i have tears streaming down my face as i read this.

this is what life is all about! you followed what God put on your heart. and look at all those angels He put beside you during the race to help out. really beautiful

KB said...

Great job!!! An accomplishment to be proud of for sure!!

papa said...

I can't go in my back yard without seeing the repaired Yellow Rocket sitting in the shade and thinking of you, Tim Tam, Campbell and the big adventure we all got to share. We will all remember those days in the heat, with the best moment of mine being when Kent, Em and Branch appeared at the start. You now have friends and memories to last you into your old age. Don't tell anyone but I go out and sit in the front of the Yak and think you might be sitting in the back, while we paddle down the Mighty Mo. Love you more than a sponge tucked in the back of my shorts. Pops

kate said...


Congratulations to ALL of you (but kinda especially to that adorable baby boy Branch) and THANK YOU for bringing us all along for the ride!

KMB said...

Nice work!

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