Having just returned from my 4th year at the Race the Lake of the Sky, the social media feeds have been buzzing with pictures, video, race results & recap and most importantly peoples stories from a glorious weekend of race events. In my humble opinion, sharing and reliving the event on social media is what social media does best. My post today is not so much a race recap or a race report because that has been done in triplicate (see SUPRACER.com,and Distressed Mullet.com) but more of a thank you and a highlight of my 4th year at the Race the Lake of the Sky.
But first a heartfelt thank you to the entire Race the Lake of the Sky Team; the volunteers, Dreu Murin, the Hard Rock lunch folks, all of the sponsors and exhibitors, the water safety crew, and of course Chris Brackett and his lovely family. There is a reason this race event is so much fun, its because it has so much heart and soul from people who just want to make it better year after year. I was at the 1st Annual RTLS and frankly it was pretty darn good back then but every year this event just gets better. Given that Mother Nature has not given us much in the way of snow or rain this past year, the lake level at the race venue looked to be more challenging than last. No problem lets just move the finish line out into the lake….brilliant idea! Having the spectators line the finish chute was incredibly inspiring and added a dimension that I don’t think I have seen at another race, once again the RTLS team adapted to the challenge. Bravo!
Back in 2012, we heard a rumor that a big race was going to be put on by the Brackett Family over on South Lake Tahoe. And the RTLS was born, this past weekend I watched almost 300 paddlers take to the water for the El Dorado 5 miler. My plan was simple for this race, take it easy so I could go hard for the Emerald Bay 14 miler the next day. Easier said than done, the patented dual buoy gated start was a mad dash from two sides of the best and straightest start line I have seen. What took my breath away while racing (other than the altitude) was an endless line of paddlers testing their buoy turn skills at every turn buoy, trust me there were plenty of turns, over 15 is my guess. And who could forget the limbo bar you had to go under on the straight away near the finish? But then I noticed the all of the kids racing, girls and boys, teenagers all charging this course and many passing me with ease. Yes, the Race the Lake of the Sky was fueling the next generation of paddlers and they were good, really good at the sprint, the buoy turn and certainly had better board handling skills than I.
After finishing the El Dorado 5, I wandered up to the Hard Rock Cafe Tent for my killer cheese burger, chips and cookie; while waiting in line I struck up a conversation with a woman who had come from Dallas, Texas for her first Race The Lake of the Sky. She said she had heard about this race but had never made it out for the race until this year. She commented at how friendly all of the paddlers were on and off the race course and how it felt like one big family. Then she proudly said she was the racer in her family and she had a loved every minute of the El Dorado 5.5. Pretty sure she will be back next year. As I paddled to my hotel down the beach, I watched a bit of the SUPCross and listened to Dreu Murin putting so much energy and excitement into each heat of the SUPCross event. Inspiring how that guy can go for 48hrs straight. Tomorrow was the Emerald Bay 14.4, BTW…the sunsets were just spectacular both Saturday and Sunday evening.
Sunday morning was a bit overcast with a slight bump on the water, today was the race to Emerald Bay and back. Setting the record straight, the Emerald Bay Distance Race could be one of the most scenic races on the planet especially when you get into the bay itself. This year over 160 paddle athletes treated themselves to an ass kicking 14.5 mile grind that is evidenced on everyones face as they come across the finish line, it’s an exhausting paddle at all levels. The Emerald Bay Distance Race takes on a life of its own as part of the Race the Lake, there are so many terrific stories that emerge from this race that it deserves its own blog post. There are races within the race that no one really hears about, draft trains emerge and blowup over the 2.5-3.5 hours of paddling. And then there are the inspirational stories of people who set their sites on just completing the Emerald Bay Race, making this their race for the season and they succeed and they have a personal victory and sense of joyous accomplishment. And just in case you are wondering, I beat my last year’s time on this course by almost 10 minutes, no trophy, no podium but the feeling of pure exhaustion was exhilarating in itself. BTW many thanks to Jay Wild, he has coached me through this season and made me a stronger paddler. My age group (14ft SUP, 50-59) is an incredibly competitive class, getting on the podium is not easy, finishing 7th in the age group seems pretty good to me. I do love the stories of all the first time racers who show up at this race and get on the podium, watching their faces light up when they get their trophy is priceless.
Thanks Race The Lake of the Sky, see you next year (just booked my hotel).