This year I paddled Ski to Sea with a new-to-me racing partner, longtime veteran paddler Fiona Vincent from Regina. We have done a few races leading up to this and paddled together in Florida, but this race was the ‘big deal’. You can tell because Fiona stenciled our names onto the boat! We are both normally bow paddlers, so we were almost flipping coins to see who would go in the stern. Luckily for me, Fiona’s experience on rivers won out and I got to paddle in the bow like I did last year. Fiona also did the run from the road bike to the canoe, something I’ll need to get my butt in gear to do next time (note to self: prioritize knee rehab!). These choices paid off, and Fiona did a great job of steering us over the swirls down the river.
Reports were that the river was empty and we’d have to run, and if you’d been eating ice cream this winter then too bad for you (or too bad for me, in my case of frequent winter ice cream). However, there was good deep water to be had if you knew where to look – and you weren’t seduced by the idea of taking the shortest distance between two points. The longer route was often where the ribbon went, so that’s where we went too. The finish was a bit rough, we took a shallow route and spent the last of our arms trying to pop the boat. We had a bit of a messy exit from the canoe to the final portage, and I (embarrassingly) dropped the boat 6 inches before the finish line due to dreaded ‘claw hand’. Luckily, the biker already had the chip and was starting his leg.
Results were good, even better than last year which I was pretty happy with. On our mixed team of 5 sports, we were the highest ranking leg (although tied with the male kayaker). We beat the next women’s crew (local all-stars who know the river well) by 43 seconds and Boundary Bay by almost 6 minutes. We did 2:09 compared to under two hours last year – but we did this on a slow river with a longer run, and this year we ranked 18th out of all teams compared to last year’s 22nd. Full results here. The photos from the race can be found here, and there is also a cool video filmed by a quad-copter drone: