Every year, a large majority of kayakers in the southeast head west to Colorado for a number of competitions. This year, the only competition that I went to in summer is the GoPro Mountain Games. My track record at this event is pretty scattered. There are three events in one, Thursday is the Homestake Creek Race and prelims for the Kayak Freestyle, Friday is the semi-finals for the Kayak Freestyle and Saturday is the finals in Kayak Freestyle (if I make it) and a grueling 3.5 mile Downriver Kayak Sprint.
Thursday started early and I did a warm up lap on the creek. Immediately, I knew it was going to be a long day. My first lap in the race was awesome. It was completely flawless and 4 seconds faster than anyone else. I was stoked. I knew I needed to just stay comfortable and positive. My second run was a bit slower but was still 2 seconds ahead of the competition. Going into finals, we started with a clean slate and the last two runs didn’t even count. I ended up “crashing” physically, my arms got lactic and I lost speed and agility, needless to say, I lost a race that I definitely should have won. I ended up in 3rd behind bad-ass racer Nouria Newman and the young fenom Sage Donnelly.
In the afternoon was the prelims for the Kayak Freestyle. I was super tired and the water is truly the coldest water I have ever felt. I competed pretty terribly but still ended up making semi-finals, somehow.
Friday came around quickly and there I was again, in the worlds coldest play hole, not competing well and not doing the moves I wanted to. I didn’t make the finals but that ended up being totally fine when I was found by a First Descents alum, who I taught a few weeks ago in NC, and she shared with me that she was still cancer free after her scan. Suddenly, my kayaking was no longer that important. I also went paddling with another FD alum down the river for him to see the run before he did the race the next morning.
Saturday morning was a super early start, up at 630 getting ready for the Downriver Kayak Sprint. This was my last chance at winning a Gerber Gear Golden Axe and I knew I had to paddle my butt off in order to win. I slid into the water at the start and realized just how cold the water was so early in the morning. Mid race, I noticed my hands had gone numb and I was just hoping I could keep a hold of my paddle. I ended up finishing strong and I also won, I finally won a Golden Axe! I also placed 5th overall in mens.
That was the end of my competition for the GoPro Games this year so I headed over to Glenwood to train more for the upcoming US Team Trials.