Back on July 19, I took part in the newest ultra distance kayak race on the Missouri River in South Dakota, Fort To Field 50 Paddle Battler. Jarett Bies, co-founder of the SD Kayak Challenge and founder of the Yankton Riverboat Days Kayak Run created it as a race to show off the river between the Fort Randall Dam and Springfield, SD.
Racers assembled at the Randall Creek Recreation Area on Friday afternoon to drop off boats and other gear before heading down to the Springfield Recreation Area to drop off vehicles and catch the shuttle back. We had racers from all over, South Dakota to Netherlands! Recreation paddlers and seasoned veteran racers like Joe Zellner. Boats ranged from 8' to 20'+. Racers and support crew either camped or stayed in motels in Pickstown. The Wagner Chamber of Commerce provided our supper on Friday night, burgers, brats, and what not.
The race was an on water start initiated by the firing of a cannon. The cannon was also fired a couple of times earlier to warn racers of how much time remained before the start. What a great alarm clock! The weather was beautiful for the race. Relatively calm winds for SoDak and the temps probably reached the 90s for a high. I gave a big surge at the start to try to hang with some of the elite paddlers and it gave me a brief opportunity to have the lead. :-)
The race went fine for me. I did not get out of the boat at all and kept JB Halter in sight past CP1 which is about 18 miles from the start. As I passed the third and last check point at Running Water, I heard that only 6 paddlers were a head of me. But, when I reached the finish in Springfield, I was asked if I saw Zach Wipf. Apparently, he got mixed up and missed the chute to Springfield. He must have paddled along the Nebraska shore all the way to Lake Lewis and Clark. He had been in 2nd place all day, but finished in the 20s. It shows the importance of studying the river in this area. So, I managed to finish 6th overall, 7 hours and 29 minutes.
The remainder of the afternoon and evening were spent helping racers out, enjoying a delicous post race meal and refreshments provided to us, and BSing about the race and racing in general. Overall winner, Joe Zellner was great for sharing advice and tips. A group of us then went to get a second supper at a local bar and grill before heading to our campsite for the night.
Overall, it was a great race that I will try to fit into my schedule every year.
Results can be found here.