Tuesday, May 04, 2010


What a weekend. I volunteered to kayak for the swim portion of the inaugural Ford Ironman St. George, UT, which was held last week. I opted to camp out at Sand Hollow, my favorite local stillwater kayak spot, in order to more easily make the 4:30 am volunteers' meeting at the south ramp. My friend, Joe Webb, and his daughter joined me at the campsite with their kayak and gear.

The Sand Hollow management had allowed us to stay at no charge, due to our volunteer status, in a great site. Nonetheless, I slept for less than four hours. Without the comfort of sleeping in the same bed as my wife and no crazy kids to pound on my door in the morning, as is the usual ritual, it was a challenge to get to sleep. I'm sure anticipation played its role well, too.

Before I curled up on the van seat, I surveyed the vista in the main parking lot. 2300 mid- to upper-tier bicycles sat corralled across the red dirt and charcoal pavement. Literally, millions of dollars of road bike was waiting for a healthy beating the next day. Wow.

Joe told me, after rapping on my window at 4:05, that the wind had kicked up that night and collapsed the neighboring tent. Crap. What's the water going to be like? I don't mind heavy chop, but trying to stay in one place with a killer wind is more than challenging, not to mention the difficulty it poses to swimmers coming up for air.

It turned out to be a picture-perfect day. Gorgeous, glassy water invited a horde of bundled paddlers into positions, all of us in place at 6:30. Cannon popped at 6:45, and the pro's made their wake.

After the leader and two pro packs passed me, I saw the stream - I was on the last 1/4 mile leg and on the other side of the island, which obstructed my view of the first 2/3 of the race - of arms and orange caps, yellow caps, froth, 2300 submerged drum slappers, pounding away at the never-ending liquid obstacle between them and their first transition. Unforgettable.

I stayed alert and moving for the next two hours, lest a competitor fatigue and require assistance or worse. Intense, cathartic, what can I say?

Can't wait to do it again next year.

First photo: Mike Kelly - Owner of Kelly Pest Control. Client of mine and a great guy. Turns out we both dig kayaking.

Second shot: Dave Webster - works for Zion National Park. We attend church together, and his youngest son, Kyle (sp? - sorry, bud!), was in my Boy Scout troop a couple of years ago. Dave's a water horse.

Third shot: my kayak in the purple of the parking lot and 0-dark:30.

Fourth shot: Webbs, Ennis, and long exposure plus flash. Fun stuff.

Shot five: picture-perfect. Here, the wind's picked up somewhat. Shot it around 2:30, hours after the swimmers were gone. Still, what a great day it was.