Away races are fun. You get to make them into mini getaways and get to spend time with like minded people that love paddle boarding and the ocean. Our weekend began early Saturday morning. Living in Miami the Keys are just a few hours away. We (Raul, Daisy (our 12 lb Shih-tzu) and myself) got all packed up and headed out. We decided to take our time on Saturday and really enjoy the Keys. We made it all the way down to Veteran’s park and watched a beautiful colorful sunrise. It was a great opportunity for Daisy to stretch her legs.The Seagull Custom Race Board and the Manatee Vintage on the way to the Keys
When we got to Big Pine Key we took a little detour to see if we could catch a glimpse of any deers. Who would have thought that there would be deers in the Florida Keys. We saw some crossing the road and some in the mangroves. This was the weirdest thing I saw on this trip for sure. We saw the most beautiful pair of males. They are smaller than your average deer. They are about the size of a Labrador. Humans are their biggest threat. They are protected and are on the endangered species list. If you go to check them out please do not feed them. There are plenty of signs to remind you.
We also, stopped to see the Blue Hole in Big Pine Key. This is a man made hole that was the bi-product of road workers using the lime stone in that area to build the roads in the area. Now it is a favorite spot for a resident gator.
Next up was the Marathon Turtle Hospital. This was a special treat. I had always wanted to go but, never had the time. We made the time this go around.They really do amazing work there savings these animals. Even though I know the importance of not littering seeing it first hand really hits home. Many of these animals end up ingesting some form of plastic or debris. Others have been hit by a motor vessel. The staff at the turtle hospital works very hard to get them healthy. Once the turtles are fully recovered they are released back into the wild. Everyone should pay this hospital a visit at least once. The entry fee goes towards funding their program so, it is all for a good cause.
I really wanted to get a nice paddle in so, we decided to go to Bahia Honda state park. We met our good friend Cat there and paddled around the beautiful crystal clear water. We paddled around 5 miles. This is really a beautiful place with a lot of history. It was my grandma’s favorite place to go to in the keys so, this is a very special place for me. We had a great time as always. There were so many sponges and fans washed up along the shoreline. Probably due to all the bad weather in the previous days.Lizi and Cat approaching the old Henry Flagler Railway
We called it a day after that. We had some dinner and got ready for the next day (Race day!!). Since, we stayed in Marathon we had a little bit more of a drive. We were about an hour away. We got there with plenty of time to check in, chat with friends and get going. The weather looked amazing with just a slight breeze out of the east. Nothing too crazy. This was Daisy’s and I first official race together so, I didn’t really know what to expect and how she would react to 6 miles of fun.The start was super exciting. You had about 54 of your closest friends funneling through this narrow passage within the mangroves. I tried to stay out in front to avoid Daisy getting dinged in the head by a paddle. We made it through there unscathed. We made our way out of Hurricane Hole Marina to our first turn under a bridge that brought us through Riviera canal. As we went along it began to narrowed down. There was only enough room for one board at a time.
The next obstacle were the low lying bridges. Since, it was low tide I had to kneel pretty low on my board under the first bridge. I heard other years people actually had to lay down in order to cross. The next challenge was only a few feet away. It was a low lying green bridge. I only had to do a squat on that one. Daisy was a champ during those 2.
We kept paddling until we were out in the open water of the gulf around through Sigsbee. Things got a little more interesting there. The wind picked up and the paddle ended up being a side paddle challenge for the last 2 miles of the race. My board felt nice and steady the whole way. Daisy did begin to get a little more antsy because of all the movement. I had to stop a couple of times to readjust her leash. It kept draining through the drain wholes of the board. I was finally able to secure it after the 4th try. From there I was concentrating on “trying” to find the fastest line for me. Then all of a sudden some guy said “make your way to the pontoon boat.” When I made it there I had to do squats and recite my abc’s. Yes you read that correctly. Then before getting on my way I had to take a jello shot. Lol that made my day. The current was really against us the whole way and the last little bit was no different. I really tried to just concentrate on the glide all the way home.
The amazing Larry Cain (Starboard) was the first overall winner with a blistering time of 1:07:23 not too far behind and rounding out the top 3 men were local South Florida legend Packet Casey (404) and up & comer Joey Huempfner (Bote). Daisy and I (IndigoSUP) took first for the ladies with a time of 1:20:17 not far behind were Cat Uden (Boga) and Lacie Flynn (Surftech) (on a prone board mind you).Jene riding his Seagull Custom took 1st place age group
I really cherish these races. You meet so many cool people from all walks of life and you get to spend time with friends. It is probably one of the best low impact calorie burning exercises you will ever do. The best part of a race is after it is done. That is when everyone gets to share their personal story, share food, drinks and just reminisce on what just happened. The Lazy Dogs really know how to throw amazing memorable fun events. I can’t wait to go back for the Key West Classic later on this year in April.
For a full list of results head to: www.paddleguru.com/races/lazydogsupfestandrace2016
Also, check out the Lazy Dog’s Facebook page for other fun events throughout 2016
Paddle Level: Moderate to Advance
Distance: 6 miles
Site: Key West