Jen, and her family. Breaking up our 9 hour drive was such a blessing, especially since we got to spend time at the pool.
Jack how to hold his breath under water. This was as close as he got.
tricks before leaving the pool? Well, I wasn't kidding. Reason #327 why you can never take the boy out of the man.
Yello Sub. I had been craving their creamy turkey for a month!
After checking out the boat ramps in Wamego, Maple Hill, Topeka, and Lecompton we decided to stop at Kreem Kup for some shakes.
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.
My dad and Tim went over our check list. I couldn't have asked for a better ground crew!
GoPro's, GPS, and prepared my food / water.
KAW100 in their homemade wooden pirough. Talk about a tough group of men!
Kaity Pfefferkorn. She paddled with Di McHenry and ended up coming in first for women's tandem. So proud of you, Little!
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 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.
Spiz, and food bag.
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,