This year was my first year at the Level Six King of the Alps race. I had run the marathon section of the river a couple of times in the past and entered two boater cross races on some easier sections of the river, so this was my third ever time racing, and a mass start race at that.
I came back to whitewater kayaking in my thirties, and now that I am here, I am trying to find out what more I could be capable of doing!
I may have left it a bit late, but better late than never.
I turned up in Moos in Passeier a few days before the race and did a daily run on the marathon section to try and work out some of the faster lines. At the event, you have the option of just racing in the marathon on a spectacular section of the river, which was very fun, but you'll start to feel it around halfway as your muscles become tired. I came 4th in the marathon, and this meant that I could have then gone on and paddled in the finale (the top five women get this option), but this year I chose not to.
Being at the race allowed me to take a peek at the final stretch of the river, which I noticed was a pretty intimidating section. I saw that it ended with a rapid that people call 'the intimidator' rapid. Before I arrived in Moos, I told myself that there was no way I would ever run this section of the river. From the photos I saw, it looked horrible and terrifying! Although I still have not paddled it yet, I am now inspired more than ever to try and work towards paddling it next year. What changed my mind from originally a definite no to now a maybe were several things. A good friend ran the last rapid, 'the intimidator', in an open canoe. They were the first-ever person to run the last rapid in an open canoe and a lady to boot! I was nervous for her while watching her run, but everything went well for her, so I was relieved. In addition, I also got to watch five awesome ladies run this section in the finals that allowed me to analyze their lines.
The other thing that makes it so tempting and inspires me to try paddling 'the intimidator' next year is the encouragement from other seasoned racers at the event. It was so great to hear encouraging words from them telling me to start with the intimidator rapids and then work my way up the river. If you want to feel inspired by other paddlers and thinking about trying paddle racing, I would recommend this event. I will be there next year, and even if I do not step it up next year, the marathon race is so much fun in itself. That, combined with meeting and hanging out with lots of other amazing, motivated paddlers made it a great weekend.
I hope to see you there!