This morning, prerace.
Junior and I set out this morning for the Wild Hog Canoe Race on the Waccasassa River. We raced in the "Parent/Child" division, a new division for the Wild Hog Race.
This race is pretty torturous, with tons of log portages, sharp chemically eroded limerock, and more curves than a Victoria Secrets model ... not that I would know anything about that of course, but I've heard talk ...
The weather was perfect, cool and sunny. We left the starting line at about 9:50 am I guess and finished about 3 hours later. I think the hardest part of the race is that first paddle stroke because your body knows that for the next 3 hours you will be doing that as hard as you can with no stops, except to portage quickly, and no resting.
There is no slacking in the USS Pure Florida during a race!
The last time Junior went with me on this trip, he was a chubbly wubbly sixth grader who was basically amiable ballast. These days he's about 6 feet of lean muscle so I was anxious to see how he would do.
As it turned out, he was an excellent bowman. He paddled hard, portaged quickly, and kept a steady pace. This race is a race against the clock and racers start off in twos with a little time gap between sets. For a long time at first we were alone, except for the mosquitoes feasting on Junior's bare back.
At one point, while paddling and watching him flail at the buzzers, I told him, "Dude, you should see your back, there's nickle sized welts, red with white centers, all over it. I wish I had my camera."
After a while, he fished his soaking wet T-shirt from the water sloshing around in the canoe bottom and put it back on.
The first half of the course is pretty twisty with many, many log portages. About 97% of these are covered with poison ivy. The water is very low right now so logs you once cruised over have become portages.
There is also no current, except over a rocky chute or submerged log. The current today was so negligible, that for all practical purposes, we were paddling a long twisty skinny lake. It's about as wide as a lane on a highway.
The second half of the course is pretty insanely twisty with logs and very sharp limerock eroded into razor blades by natural carbonic acid in the water.
A few kayaks passed us, but after a while we began passing people who had started before us, which was extremely gratifying.
At the end, the river suddenly turns placid and meek looking as you approach the finish line just west of the US-19 bridge. Here, you paddle like a crazy person trying to cut your time in this last moment. At the bridge, you must lift your canoe up and over the log, clamber over the log yourself, get back in your canoe, and paddle across the nearby finish line.
As Junior and I shoved the canoe up and over the log it took off for the finish line without us. Not good ... we have to be in it to finish, so I went after it in the waist deep river like a man in slow motion. I finally made a dive, caught the stern with my finger tips and we jumped in.
In our frantic exhausted state, we skipped all the coordinated movements that we had used on countless portages that day and promptly flipped the canoe.
So we made it to the finish line in a canoe filled with water, but we made it.
In fact, when we left the race finish site, we were in second place for the Parent/Child division. First place was only 9 minutes faster.
I don't know what the final results will be, but it was fun and for a good local charity ... so does it matter?
Well, yes, a little.
Here's four people who earned their, "I survived the Wild Hog Canoe Race" T-shirts and free lunch.
The two green shirt guys are James and Jordan, two of my ex students and part of the wonderful family that produced Corinne, Emma's best bud and college roommate. The white shirt guy is my bowman, Junior and the guy in the blue shirt is ... well you know.
It was a great grueling race and my body is saying, "Dude, you are gonna pay for this tomorrow".
Maybe I can talk it into a nap so it won't be so grouchy and sore tomorrow.