On August 23, a group of CCDBA’s SurviveOars ascended on Colorado Springs for the National Championship. We were excited and anxious for the competition on a National level. Usually we race the same teams, and we know our worth next to them - this was a national setting, so we had no way to predict how we’d compare. Except we’re awesome, and we look really good!
We started with a 4:00 PM practice at little Quail Lake - not too far from where we were staying. I believe LIz Gladwell was the meteorologist of the day when she said she didn’t think we’d have a practice at all because thunderstorms were forecasted. Nay sayer, said !, we’re going for it! And went for it we did. We got on our practice boat - a tad bit earlier than our time because we are on it! The boats used for the festival were BUK boats. We had never experienced them. But they were steady! We loaded up and started practicing. The sky lit up - at first I thought it was the gods showing how impressed they were with us - but then a clap of thunder followed, and our steers called for us to go in. “Just one more run,” I begged. And in the midst of that last run, another bolt of lightening crossed our path - much closer this time because the clap of thunder shook that water and told us not to be fools. The horns blared from shore calling us in, and had that run been a race, we truly would have come in first - we paddled our hearts out or is it that our hearts were paddling at quite a fast rate? When we got back on shore, Brooke, a supporter from home who came with Donna, exclaimed that her heart was beating so fast. Sorry Brooke that we caused an anxiety. We were safe - and not too winded. Everyone was feeling that this altitude stuff was a myth, we were going to be fine!
Saturday dawned overcast - very much in our wheelhouse of weather patterns! Thankfully it stayed that way all day and the temperature was quite pleasant. Our first race was the ACS race. Our goal was to take first place every step of the way! We were competing against two other teams - one from Charlotte and one from the regions of the NorthWest. We had raced against Healing Dragons from Charlotte, NC in Szeged, Hungary, and took the gold, and we were warned about Survivor Sake from Washington.
If you recall, the venue changed at the last minute due to a blue-green algae bloom closure of the original venue. Because of this change, rather than doing 500 meter races we did 400 meter ones. The run to the start line was very short, so our warm up consisted of land exercises. Nevertheless, we were feeling psyched and pumped! Neddy expertly put us in our lane. The starter - a no-nonsense kind of a gal - had us in position, the horn blew, and we were off! We jumped out of our lane. We had an incredible transition. Timing was good. Denise was banging on the drum. I’m pretty sure at meter 200, I thought, “Thankfully this race is only 400 meters - there’s no oxygen!” Our head crossed the finish line first but by less than a second. We had our work cut out for the remainder of the races. At the nationals, it is the combined time of all heats when there are 3 or fewer boats. We came in second for the next two 500 meters heats that by the end of the day we had nearly 4 seconds to shave off. Sunday was the 200 meter races. They were fun! We came in 2nd on the first heat by less than a second then came in 1st by more than a second - so had that been a stand alone division we would have won it. But it wasn’t and we ended up taking the Silver. Charlotte took Gold, we took Silver and Sake took Bronze. We look forward to seeing them in France.
We had also entered the festival’s women’s division. We raced 3 heats against Indy SurviveOars. That team started up about the same time we did. We won the first heat, barely lost the second heat then came back with a vengeance in the third heat giving us the gold.
A good time was had by all. We had so much family support - lots of family live out in Colorado. A giant thanks to Rosana’s cousin and her family for the food and drinks. Dr. Malone who is temporarily living in Colorado Spring come out to support. It was really nice. We were done on Sunday early enough to explore Colorado Springs - it’s absolutely gorgeous! And now we are heading to France.
Thank you to everyone for making it a wonderful experience. I will close this posting with a sentiment from a newer paddler that reminds us why we exist.
“I want to thank everyone for being so helpful and supportive. What a change from last summer’s rounds of chemo. It’s great to be part of the race and feel alive again! Everyone of you is an inspiration. What an amazing beautiful setting to explore! Thanks everyone for letting me be part of the team. This was a great experience.”