So far my trip has been AWESOME! I basically hit the ground running, and have only now started to relax and have some time to do normal day-to-day things, like write this blog post!
Unfortunately I picked up a nasty chest infection before I was due to leave SA, which meant I had to miss the first race on my schedule, the Crestuma marathon in Portugal. It did mean I got to spend the weekend in London, which was the Olympic opening weekend. I managed to get tickets to the opening concert in Hyde Park, which was spectacular. Catching up with old friends, and memories of the short stint I did in London back in 2003, all made the first weekend a great experience.
Before I could get too comfortable, I jetted off to Asturias, in the North of Spain, for the International Descent of the River Sella! This race has been on my to-do list for a very long time. My first coach, and the guy who played a major role in not only teaching me to paddle, but also creating my work/training ethic and general attitude towards training and racing, won this event back in 1997. I always remember him telling me these cray stories about this race. The masses of people, party goers, the manic start and the great vibe.
Here is a short video clip about this year’s race, showing the crazy start:
Here are some photo’s from the race:
The race can only be described as crazy! The start is not in batches like at home, so over a thousand paddlers line up along the banks of the river, for one mass start! And it’s shallow. This year in particular was pretty low!
I had a great race, and ended up winning the women’s K1 race, just 2 minutes off Mara Santos record set in flood conditions. I will definitely be back, maybe in a K2!
Thanks so much to Fernando and Florentino of Parreskayaks for all their help, the boat and their perfect English!
The next day I got fetched my my “manager” Gonzalo, of Elite Kayak. Thanks for all your help, from translating, to boats to lifts! I was paddling a K2 race in Busto’s hometown of Villaviciosa with Danish Marathon paddler Birgit Pontoppidan. The race was pretty short, only 6km, but with the rushing tide and wind, it made for some tough racing. We paddled hard and ended up with a 3rd place behind Sella K2 2012 Champs Mara and partner from Spain, and the Argentinian crew.
Monday we headed off to Riba de Sella (where the Sella Descent ended) to race a K4 event. Initially was going to paddle with Ant and Cam, but luckily they found some male partners and I ended up paddling with Birgit and 2 young Spanish Junior paddlers. After getting seeded right in the worst position, we made a great tactical start, and were in 2nd place. After some hard racing we ended up in 3rd, with 2 tired but stoked Juniors!
And that was that, one super duper week in Spain! Thanks to Ant for being chief organiser, and to Fernando & Florentino for all their help and the boat, and Gonzalo for being the best manager ever!
I got back to London in time to see Bridgitte smash her final at the Olympics and take South Africa’s first ever canoeing Olympic medal! All her hard work and sacrifice has paid off and I am very happy to see this around her neck!
The Olympics were amazing, London put on such a great show! I am looking forward to Rio! Now we just need Ocean Ski to become an Olympic sport…
I got to see some special friends that I haven’t seen in years, and make some new ones! Thanks to Nelo and the Legends at #47 for making me feel so welcome and my stay so great!
With the craziness of London, the Olympics and trying to fit in some training sessions, I am relieved to be in Poole with my friends Chloe and Pete, for some surf ski training ahead of the Nelo Summer Challenge. The wind has been blowing, and we are getting some great sessions in. Can’t wait to get there!