Questions from the Field: Training & Instruction
We have met on a few occasions, and I am a big fan of yours! I was hoping to receive some advice on kayaking and adventure racing pursuits. To now, I have mostly raced in shorter-distance triathlons but have always been interested in adventure racing; sadly, I still have no first-hand experience… and I want to change that.
… One of the reasons I don’t race is because I have never learned to properly kayak. I raced in the Traverse last year, got in a borrowed kayak and immediately tipped over and fell out. Your husband helped pack me back into the kayak — fortunately, I made it through the course without another tipping incident (that would have made for a very bad ending to my race). I now would actually like to practice kayaking before my next event. At this time, I was wondering if you knew of any practices or ways that I could do this that wouldn’t be too expensive. I also don’t own a kayak – another challenge. Any recommendations?
Finally, I am interested in getting some experience in shorter-distance adventure races this year. TRIOBA has a sprint race that I’m looking into (no kayak leg!), and I’m thinking about asking some friends to enter with me. I would love any other race recommendations that you might have.
Thanks in advance for any information. I know you also coached a group of women for the Traverse two years ago, and I’d love to be involved if you do anything like that again.
Dirty Dan Harris Challenge, view from South Hill in Bellingham, photo by David Scherrer
Elakah in Bellingham offers affordable classes. www.elakah.com
First they have ongoing Tuesday and Thursday night classes where you can learn boat maneuvering, rescue techniques as well as understanding tides, currents and maps.
Also, this year, I am co-teaching a Paddle Faster course prior to the Ski to Sea and a second one prior to the Bellingham Traverse through Elakah. These will teach self-rescue and forward stroke techniques for race entrants. It is a 5-session course that will run 4 weeknights, then the final day, a Saturday, we will paddle the actual race course for that event.
Island Outfitters in Anacortes also offers great trips and other instruction opportunities.
Bellingham Traverse, Brandon running my surf ski to the water for me, photo by Janet Miller.
A great way to introduce yourself into the Adventure Racing scene in Washington is the multi-sport relay event. You can typically solo these, or do them tandem, or as a relay team. Here are a few good ones:
Ridge to River, Wenatchee, WA (April 14, 2007) http://www.r2r.org/
Ski to Sea, Bellingham, WA (May 27, 2007) http://www.bellingham.com/
Mountains to Sound, Seattle, WA (June 24, 2007) http://www.mountainstosound.com/
Bellingham Traverse, Bellingham, WA (September 1, 2007) http://www.bellinghamtraverse.com/
Also, if you do nothing else, check out Wednesday night races at Bloedel Donovan on Lake Whatcom in Bellingham…
Lake Samish Salmon Roe, Lake Samish, Bellingham. Photo by Bob Gilda
Another great resource is Sound Rowers. http://www.soundrowers.org/
Sound Rowers hosts 17 races from Bellingham to Seattle throughout the summer. These are great races that draw all levels of racers, and range from 5-miles to 26-miles. These races are a great way to learn, build your skills, and stay motivated.
The first Sound Rowers race of the season is Feb 17th in La Conner. You may want to come down, volunteer for the race, check out the scene, and meet some racers. The best way to start learning is to throw your self into the middle of the scene. It is a great group of people.
Women On Waves:
WOW surf ski demo and clinic, photo by Dale McKinnon
Finally, join our W.O.W. chat group. This is a great way to post questions to other women, meet paddle partners, find out about upcoming events, ect. www.soundrowers.com/wow.htm
Best of luck and Happy Paddling!
Heather and Brandon