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September 12th 2015

7th Annual Race Round the Rock Paddle Race   By Jen Fuller    

Round the Rock race was inspired by Jeff Underwood 7 years ago. Jeff lives on Mercer Island and he and his cohorts thought, “hey lets start a race around the island”!

In the words of Jeff Underwood:

“First race was a fundraiser for Surf Rider Foundation. I think 73 peeps in long course and around 60 in short race. It’s grown every year for the most part. With the 11th hour venue change (he is referring to the change from Newcastle to Chism beach this year due to high bacteria), we lost some registrants and obviously public turnout this year. I created the race because I figured my wife would give a hall pass to me so I could paddle for several hours for what I thought would be with a dozen or more local paddlers.”

So what started out to be a low-key event has turned into a bigger race event over the years. As any race organizer knows the planning and money that go into a race is incredibly detailed and costly in order to pull off a great event. This event was just that!

The main race was a 13 mile rounding of Mercer Island. This year brought very calm waters, light wind and hot weather. Good timing as the week before the wind was blowing nearly 50 mph with torrential rains. Past years have brought high winds and rough water so each year you just never know.

I overheard locals telling tails in the parking lot of years where the race was very challenging. Nervous pre-race reminiscing that brought laughs to everyone in the vicinity.

The race went off easily and effortlessly. Following the 13 mile race were two kids races and a 3 mile race.

To help the success of this event was Lina Augaitis, Barrett Tester and his wife Kelly, Thomas Maximus, of course Jeff Underwood and many others I do not know the names of.

Here is something I thought was really great about the race……Everyone had a chance to be in the money since there was no separating Elite from open class.

Here is how it worked:

The top 3 finishers in each board class (stock (12’6”), 14 and Unlimited) for overall Men and Women will win prize money. Plus overall winners will receive a bonus prize.

If a top racer in a shorter class finishes ahead of a top 3 finisher in an upper class, that racer wins their purse PLUS the longer division purse for that place. For instance, if a stock class winner finishes ahead of the second place 14’ class finisher, the stock rider wins the stock prize and the 2nd place prize for the 14 foot class. The second place 14 foot finisher receives 3rd place prize money!

This is nice if you are a fast racer in a shorter length board class. Shannon Bell and I cashed in on this! The other nice thing is that each age category is recognized with prizes and medal.

Two other Bay Area competitors came up for this race, Julie Stevens and Shanna Upton! Julie came in 3rd in age group and 10th woman overall. Shanna came in 1st in 14’ and 7th women overall

I would recommend this race to anyone. The scene is low-key and the area is beautiful. It is a great place to do other fun outdoor activities or enjoy the city with it’s rich history, and fun things to do and see.

Thank You Jeff Underwood and friends!

Race Results