6 paddlers showed up at 7am on the Memorial Day at Hot Springs in Saratoga, Wyoming, for the First Wyoming Outback Challenge, all solo, 5 in double blade class, and 1 in single blade class.
My GPS died just before the race, so I did not measure the exact race course, but it was something between 45 and 48 miles from Saratoga to Fort Steele (boat ramp at I-80). There was one checkpoint in 10.6 miles in the race at Pick Bridge (just monitoring racers progress, no stopping). Two experienced sea kayakers launched from that checkpoint as sweep boats.
The river was beautiful with Wyoming in full spring, a lot of wildlife, very fast current with some waves, only two obstacles requiring more careful navigation (Pick Ditch dam and Eagle Nest dam), some choices between multiple river legs, a strong head wind developing later in the morning.
| paddler boat
| Scott Cummins
| Jeremy Rodgers
| Mike Lesnik
|WSBS X-par Missile
| Marek Uliasz
Fort Collins, CO
| Danielle Ballengee
| Rob Bean
Fort Collins, CO
1arrived after about 7:10 hours, but got caught by sweep boats before the finish = disqualification
Plans for the next year: probably the same race format, but run on Sunday instead of Monday during the Memorial Day weekend together with an overnight trip.
My race. It was my longest paddle in the Thunderbolt so far - 5:19. I was not sure if I could seat that long in this kayak without stopping, but it wasn't too bad - good news. I lost contact with the first three boats within 20 minutes or so, and was racing alone against myself. I was not too tired at the finish as I should be. It seemed that the exercise induced asthma was controlling my pace more than my physical shape - bad news.
I really enjoy paddling Thunderbolt on the North Platte during the race and during two days before the race - I paddled from Saratoga to Pick Bridge and from Treasure Island to Saratoga. I did also some upstream paddling from the Treasure Island and from Eagle Nest. Pictures of the river below come from these training runs and from driving to Eagle Nest. More pictures and video clips are waiting for editing.