I have been reading some post’s on Facebook about people who want to enter a SUP race asking how to do better than last place, what if I am last, I’m 50 and everyone else is younger than me. They seem to have a concern that if they finish last place people will poke fun at them or laugh, etc. However, when I read comment threads and replies I find happiness in that almost 100% of the comments are positive, encouraging and simply awesome. I see folks of the same age as the person asking these questions, reply with “I am your age and always finish last, but I still won because I FINISHED” or You brought me to tears when I seen you come across the finish line, that’s why we waited for you. This is not to say that paddling, and yes even SUP does not have .000001% of people who seem to be more critical than other’s, we are humans and sometimes humans can be assholes. However, 99.9999% of people you run into in the paddling world will most likely welcome you with open arms, give you great advice and not judge you for being newer to the sport, especially when it comes to the sport of long distance and ultra distance racing. Yes, you will have some paddlers that are in it to win it, while others want to improve on last years times but, you will also have the people that have never done a race in their lives and just want to see if they can finish it. These are the people that inspire others to get into the world of SUP, these people simply want to be on the water somewhere beautiful and have fun while challenging themselves.
The MR340 is one of the most grueling paddling races in the world without a doubt, and up until 2011 it was dominated by canoes and touring and racing kayaks. In 2011, Shane Perrin – of St Louis Missouri decided to enter the race on a SUP board. People thought he was crazy “and he was” for even thinking about paddling 340 miles in the summer heat while standing up. When Shane entered the race he was heckled and poked fun of and people even took bets that he would not finish the race. This fueled Shane and in some ways “HELPED” Shane make it to the finish line. Fast forward to 2016 and Shane would perform another first, and that was to paddle in the MR340 on a custom built by hand in his garage, 4 man paddleboard later named Greystroke. Now, here’s where my story get’s back on track. Shane built this board KNOWING it was not going to win the race, he was not even sure the resin would be dry by race day, yes, he built the board 9 days before the race. What Shane wanted to do was paddle the MR340 on something NO ONE has ever seen while getting his good friends Dale Sanders and Jerico Lefort across the finish line. People I have talked to said, “he is a machine, a pure ultra distance “RACER” why would he not want to “RACE RACE” in the 340. Well, the truth of the matter is, Shane is a well tuned SUP racer, he is a machine, and he still races, however, he also is a fun spirited guy that likes to do off the wall things to get people involved in the sport of SUP. He is a motivator and mentor. The point of my story about Shane is, even if your a die hard ultra distance SUP racer known around the world for your first’s in the world of SUP that even someone like Shane put’s no shame in finishing last or 7 hours before the 88 hour time limit is up as long as he finished he is first place in hi mind. He built a huge “YUGE”, 4 man SUP board in 9 days in which the 4th man had to back out leaving Shane, Jerico and 81-year-old Dale Sanders as the paddlers of this SUP-SHIP, he was able to show hundreds, if not thousands of people that not matter what you put your mind to, you can achieve your goals, and he was able to get Dale Sanders across the finish line making him the oldest…….. I’m sorry “the most SENIOR” person to ever finish the MR340. So even though he did not finish first, it achieves a lot of first’s, and that was his goal.
In May of 2016, I was approaching 400lbs, I had lost my mother suddenly, and lot’s of other personal issues had put me in a bad funk. It was, in fact, one year ago Shane decided to help me change my life. I had never been on a SUP board, I was an avid kayaker, and Shane decided to change that by building me a board that would be able to support my big ol’ butt. In the past year, the sport of SUP has completely engulfed my daily thoughts. I have been on my SUP board more in the last 6 months than I have been in a kayak the last year. With all this SUP in my head, I have started to look at life in a different way. I am less judgemental, more caring and my attitude on life it much better, I am basically a hippie because of SUP. Then a few months ago Shane asked if I wanted to step up my SUP game and enter the MR340 on a first of its kind 8 man SUP. How could I say no, this is where my whole outlook where I finish races changed. It’s 8 crazy people on this odd looking vessel with an Athletic version of “Matt Foley, Motivational Speaker” leading the way. Are we going to get first place, probably not but, we will be the first to finish something that has never been done. This is how I look at winning, when you can finish something that pushes your mind and body to the brink of breaking you have indeed finished first. No, you did not get that big shiny trophy, but, you did something that nobody thought you could do, YOU FINISHED.
So, like I was talking about in the beginning of my rambling. The world of paddling, especially SUP brings everyone in the sport to one main goal, FUN. When your the last person in a field of 20, 40, 100+ paddlers and you reach that finish line, your can probably bet that the first place winner will be the first person at the finish line to greet you as you collapse on the beach, you will be picked up by fellow paddlers and helped across the gate. You will have people clapping and cheering for you as your body is on the brink of shutting down and all this love and support will lift you up and show you that no matter your age, size, abilities, that if you put your mind to it 100%, you will be first, even if you finish last. Where there may be one person who doubts you, there will be 10 that are there to lift you up and motivate you.
Just like this blog post, I may ramble and get off track but, at least I am trying to give people some motivation to take that first step, achieve that goal and in the end you will be smiling because you will have finished something that you put your mind to and maybe it will affect one person in a positive way and if so, it will all be worth it.
End of ramble
Some side effects may occur such as
- Moments of “WTF”
- and Tears “whether it be from emotion or laughter at the rambling
- Head Scratching
Main side effect
- Smiling………………….. I hope.