(Pre-Race Thoughts by Rowan Stuart):
The Green Race.
The biggest show in sports.
First weekend of November every year for the past 19 years.
Photo: Renee Bombardier
My brain can’t decide if I’m more stoked or more terrified. It will be my first year to race, and it snowed between two and four inches here in Asheville last night. I’m writing this while huddled in the Pyranha van with four other people. I’ve had really good lines my last few runs out here, and I’m super excited to race. But I’m still at the point where thinking about racing makes me feel a little bit sick to my stomach. Last night I had some weird dreams, but I slept pretty well, all considered. My challenges right now: waiting until my race time at 3:27 (it’s 12:30 now), and trying to decide what gear to wear under my drysuit for the race.
I’m scared. But it’s a good scared. I’ve got my music playing now, and I know everything will flow smoothly as soon as I get into my boat. I’m focusing on my breathing already, trying to keep it regular and prevent the panicky breathing that I get sometimes. My stomach is rolling and my chest and throat feel tight. I’m so excited for my first green race though. It’s one of those things that I never really thought I would feel ready to do, and even though I’m nervous now I’m definitely feeling ready when it comes to the actual kayaking.
Most of the snow in my boat has melted (that’ll make this much easier). Right now I plan to be getting out of the van and getting dressed right after 2. Walking super slowly to the put in. Racing at 3:27. Being done with the race in around 7 minutes max. I don’t really have a goal this year. I just want to see where I can end up, because I feel like I’ve been going pretty fast out there, but have never timed myself and really have no predictions for where I’ll end up. Obviously the goal is as fast as possible. Sub 6.5 minutes is probably my fastest goal for now but we’ll see where it ends up and I don’t plan on charging too hard.
Photo: Mitch Bearden
I was so excited to paddle by the time I got to the start line above Frankenstein. The sick feeling in my stomach went away, and thanks to some good company up there with me I couldn’t stop smiling. My race mantra throughout the run ended up being something along the lines of “It’s okay. You’ve got it. Keep paddling. You can do it. Breathe. Just go smooth. Keep it up.”
My lines left something to be desired, but I can’t wait to watch myself crash off gorilla in the carnage reel. My overall time was 6 minutes and 26 seconds, and I was proud to be the only woman in short boat, with a time only 10 seconds behind 4th place in Women’s long boat. I believe I spent those 10 seconds getting worked in go left.
In conclusion, the green race was definitely the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life, but I loved it and can’t wait to come back next year for more.
Photo: Renee Bombardier
Well that’s what it may feel like to be racing the Green for your first time at the age of 18. Myself, at the age of 33 having ran tons of class V all over the world having already raced the Green 4 times before feel almost exactly the same way. This is a big part of the draw to the Green race. That, and for me seeing all the great friends from all over the country and parts of the world. I’m at the Green race to have fun and see what my time may be at the end of the course. This year I got my hands on the 9R a few days before the race so I choose to use it, knowing there was really no way that I could beat some of the long boats, but this boat is just so fun to paddle! I love it! I ended up 3rd in the short boat class. I was slowed up a little, but ya know what the hell, I had a blast anyway!
Here’s my race run