Another great turnout for the Outdoor Incorporated Memphis Canoe and Kayak race this past weekend as 200 paddlers of all craft and abilities showed up to tow the line.
Compared to the previous year, the Mississippi was running low, resulting a mixed bag effect for the racers--- a slower assist from the current, but less trees and boat sucking swirling eddies to contend with.
I haven't had a great a deal of experience with The Mississippi River, but watching a full-size tree get sucked down into a mini maelstrom last year, only to disappear and NOT pop back up left a lasting impression on me.
I was grateful that conditions were a bit more manageable this year.
The race, is one of the most efficiently run I have ever encountered. Director Joe Royer has done a magnificent job of keeping everything running properly and on a tight schedule. No small feat when taking into account the spectrum of paddlers showing up to take part.
The beauty of a race like OICK is that it brings together an assortment of people taking part---from fist timers in Wal-Mart sit-on-tops, to a duo dressed as the Blues Brothers piloting an Aluminum Canoe all the way to former Olympians, they are represented here.
When the gun went off, the usual suspects spanked their way down the river in a hurry. Mike Herbert took the hole shot with Eric Mims and Waylon Willis paddling a V10 double keeping pace. A chase group consisting of Rick Carter, Elmore Holmes, Kata Dismukes, Shane Kleynhans and the ever-strengthening Pellerin triplets coalesced behind and punched the pace up in pursuit.
Behind the chase group, the others were strung out in a single file line with pockets of paddlers working together.
Approaching the bridge before the turn into the final quarter mile, Mims and Willis put in a dig on Herbert to test the Olympians mettle and gauge whether they could break away. Their press gave them a gap that they were able to hang onto and widen; finishing the 3.2 mile course in first place overall with a time of 17 minutes and 19 seconds. Herbert followed as the top solo paddler in 17.43.
The Pellerin triplets came in at third, with Rick Carter fourth, Shane Kleynhans fifth and Kata Dismukes sixth.