I am sorting and revising my old blog posts. This one is about the first Gritty Fitty race and was originally posted in July 2007. It was the only time when I paddled the Kansas (Kaw) River. Of course, I don’t count a short section of the river at Kaw Point where the Missouri River River 340 race starts. The Kaw River was quite similar to the South Platte River in Colorado which was main paddling water in winter and spring season.
Nowadays, the race is still run, but in a shorter version:
The Gritty has had a fluid past. It has changed ownership a few times, and Midwest Paddle Racing took it over in 2014. Originally, it was the “Gritty Fitty”, and it was Fifty miles from Lawrence to KC. This included the portaging the Edwardsville Dam, and with usual low water levels, most finishers were lucky to finish in under 10 hours Due to low turnout (13 boats in 2014, and only 8 finishing), Midwest Paddle Racing decided to shorten the race to 35 miles and move it to May. This did many things: shortening the distance and making it early in the year (higher water) made the time on water less. Removing the dam portage made it safer. Both of these meant more participants.
49 boats started the race at Lawrence on June 30, 2007 and 39 boats reached the finish at Kaw Point (if I counted correctly, see the race results). Paddlers needed from 7:04 to 11:36 hours to complete the race course.
Course record times:
- men’s solo: 7:04 hours – West Hansen
- men’s tandem: 7:42 hours – Zaiham Abdullah and Saum Liwon
- women’s solo: 10:24 hours – Christina Glauner
- women’s tandem: 8:10 hours – Di McHenry and Natalie Courson
- mixed tandem: 8:47 hours – Katie Pfefferkorn and Charlie Lockwood
My GPS recorded 51.5 miles during the race which includes a few minutes paddling around starting line. Below is a plot of my speed in Thunderbolt-X kayak with finishing time 7:17. I stopped only for a dam portage, but I started to slow down somewhere around 25th mile.
I did not shoot any pictures before or during the race, but I was shooting after finishing at the Kaw Point. The cloudy and rainy weather was not so great for photography. You can click thumbnails below to see larger images.