I'm not sure how many times I have completed the Wildhog Canoe Race on the beautiful Waccasassa River.
I raced solo when I was younger and the kids were too young to come along ... thinking maybe 3 times in that era.
Then when my girls were old enough, I took each one at least once. On one of those adventures with my little Emma, we stove in the bow of our canoe on a submerged log early in the race, ... and took on water for the rest of the adventure.
It was a mix of constant paddling and bailing for about 14 more miles of twisty river.
All 3 kids, Katy, Emma, and Raymie got their turn with Dad and most got two.
On Raymie's first trip, he was a little guy and totally useless as a paddler, but he added a wonderful humorous twist to the race with his nonstop questions and commentary.
Later, as a very strong athletic teenager, he helped propel the two of us to 2nd place in the parent/child division.
I did the race solo a few times more after the kids grew up, but then about 7 years ago, I discovered obstacle course racing and I let the Wildhog Canoe Race slip off my "to do list".
I almost did that this year too, but at the last moment, ... I signed up.
With a fishing kayak (NOT the best kayak for this race!) and being 61, I had to compete in the Men's 55+ Kayak division.
That was fine with me.
My thinking was ..."How many fit old guys can there be?"
Turns out ... the answer to that question is 5 (counting me).
Five of us in the Senior Men's Kayak division ... although I swear there were only 3 of us at the start line when our wave was launched.
The Waccasassa at this point is very skinny and twisty with a variety of obstacles, most of them logs. The final few miles cuts through lime rock and much of this has been solution eroded into sharp edges.
This year the water level was up and we all avoided most of those boat and knee scrapers!
I put together a short video of some of the obstacles. The video represents just a tiny bit of the race course.
At the end of the race, about 20 feet from the official finish line, there is a log across the river.
Every participant and their boat must cross over the log or earn a 5-minute penalty to their time.
This log (some years there are 2 logs!) is purely for the spectators' enjoyment. The picture below is me about to go over that log. (Thanks to Wanda Johnson for my photo!!)
I got a cool T-shirt, a free BBQ lunch, a huge thumb blister, and a new cell phone out the WildHog Canoe Race.
It seems I put too much faith in an old phone dry case that I have owned for a very long time ... too long apparently.
At the only stop I made during the race, a 7-minute beaching to tip the kayak and dump water out ... I discovered my beloved Pixel was in a bag of water, not dry.
Fifteen miles, my time was 2:47:21 and 7 of those minutes were the few minutes ashore.
4th place in a field of 5.
Very fun day and I will be back!
See you on the water.