Saturday, July 23, 2016

SUP Race Report: Mark Athanacio's "No Name Race" sup / run

Race: The 4th running of Mark Athanacio's traditional "No Name Race"

Date it happened: 23 July 2016

Host/Sponsor: Mark Athanacio organized it, and Jen Hayes, Stephanie Dangler, Aaron Thomas, and other local paddlers helped set it up. It was free.

Location: In front of the Vanderbilt Beach Club hotel on Vanderbilt Beach, Naples, Florida.

Distance: One lap on the SUP course was about 925 meters, and one lap on the beach running course was about 900 meters. We did four alternating laps of each.

Conditions: It was warm and humid, but not that bad because we started around 0830 when the sun was still low. The ocean was flat as a lake and the water was quite clear by SW Florida standards.

Participants: There was a pretty good turnout for an informal race, with a mix of local SW Florida racers and Mark Athanacio's buddies from across the state in SE Florida. There was good representation from the ladies side, with super fit Mini De Cunha Marageth Lagace and Mary Ann Boyer, plus Amanda Portwood, Damien Lin, Saralane Harrer, and others. On the men's side the out-of-town hotshots included Jake Portwood and Packet Casey. From the CGT Race Team the guys were Murray Hunkin, Mark Hourigan, Justin DiGiorgio, me, and Athanacio himself.

Gear: I used my 14x22 Riviera RP, the Blue Streak, with my Riviera Vantage R8 paddle and a 6" Fins Unlimited keel style fin. Mark Athanacio wasn't going to race because he's sick, but at the last minute he decided to race on Jen Hayes' 12'6x24 Hovie Comet GT. Packet Casey rode a brand new 14x23 JP Australia flatwater raceboard. Jake Portwood rode a 14x24 Hovie Comet ZXC. Mark Hourigan rode a 14x23 Riviera. Murray Hunkin was on an older 14x28 Bark. Saralane rode a nice looking 12'6x26 carbon Riviera that she recently bought from Jen Hayes.

Results: Times weren't recorded for this race, just finishing order, which was written in sharpie on tongue depressor sticks handed out at the finish line. But lots of the racers recorded their own times. First place was Jake Portwood, followed by Packet Casey, followed by me (47:28), followed by Mark Athanacio. I think Jake and Packet finished in around 45:00. I lost track of the finishing order after Athanacio.

Play by play: Though the first leg of the race was a sup leg, the start itself actually involved a bit of running. We had to stand touching our boards near the edge of the water, but with our paddles in the sand about 10 meters behind us. So the first thing we did was run backwards to get our paddles, then we grabbed our boards and ran down into the water. I had a decent start and rounded the first buoy about a board length behind Athanacio, who was about a length behind Packet, who was about a length behind Jake. I didn't kill myself to get a good drafting position, since I figured everything was going to change at the transitions, anyway. Instead, I paced myself somewhat conservatively, being unsure how much the running segments would wear me down, and wanting to be able to maintain a steady pace throughout the race. Jake and Packet extended their lead, but I remained within a few board lengths of Athanacio. At that time I didn't realize Athanacio was on a 12'6, or I might have been shamed into trying to go faster on my 14.

The first running leg went OK. The most tiring part was the sea-to-land transition, plucking my board out of the water, running it uphill, and parking it facing the water for the next lap. The sand was nice and soft, for better or worse. I.e., it didn't hurt my feet, but it took more energy to run on than a hard surface, so my pace was more like a fast jog than a true running pace. Once back on the water I felt more in my element, and felt good about my pacing. I did the second running lap much the same as the first, a little behind Athanacio, but increasingly far behind Jake and Packet. Athanacio took a water break at the end of the second run, and I passed him, but he was close enough behind to ride my draft for most of a lap when we got back on the water. Eventually the speed advantage of my 14' board was enough to break away, and I moved more securely into 3rd place. For the last laps I kept a nice, steady pace, with the exception of falling at the final buoy turn on the water lap.

Here's my GPS track and data from the race. You have to use your imagination to see the running part, which was going north along the beach parallel to the sup track.

Although the race was a tough challenge, it felt like a great workout, and I liked the mix of sup and soft sand running. We'll see what sore muscles I discover tomorrow.

What's Next: Tomorrow morning there's another CGT Summer Series race, so I'll be doing that.

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