Aerial yoga, SUP yoga, log rolling, adaptive races, clinics, movies, and parties are just a few of the activities available at the Cayuga Lake SUP Cup that was held August 16th in Ithaca, NY. I knew I would be visiting family in the area and had heard about the event back in May/June when I was in Connecticut for the Soundsurfer Waterman’s Challenge. I decided then to make the plans to hit this race on my way out of NY.
The town of Ithaca is an interesting area with tons of activities to fill a long weekend away from it all. Farmers markets, wine tasting, coffee shops, and a cute downtown are a few things I found particularly appealing. I love events where I can find healthy, fresh food options, and this was one of those events. After arriving at the venue, there was an entire park bustling with SUP race activity. Vendors were setting up, the aroma of fresh coffee filled the air, some yogis were demonstrating yoga, and boards were starting to accumulate near the race start. I love SUP events! I gathered my gear and headed to check-in before dropping my board with the others at the start. Everyone at check in was super-friendly, helpful, and quick. On display were cool, hand-made, recycled wine bottle trophies, just to get you pumped for the race if you weren’t already.
As the paddlers assembled for the racer’s meetings, I finished up some quick yoga on the side and ran over. Its super important to always pay attention during the meetings, especially when there are deviations to the previously posted course. The elite course wasn’t going to make the scheduled turn into the creek that held the falls, rather the course would turn outside the falls while still in the lake. The recreational course was also modified in their favor due to very strong winds that day.
The elite racers were off first. It was a standing start, standing in the water!! I was already cold and trying to stay warm, so when they said we could stand in the waist high water next to the buoys, I was a little hesitant. I really just wanted to stay in the ankle deep water and take my chances to catch up. Terry Kent, who went on to win the Elite race, came up next to me and said, “I bet if we just line up here, everyone else will too.” I think he saw my fear of the cold! Thankfully, everyone wanted to stay as dry as possible and we created our own race start line closer to the beach. When the horn sounded, we jumped on our boards and paddled hard. It was probably one of my worst race starts ever! We were splashing, and running into one another trying to turn up into the wind to start the race. After a slow we started to catch some bumps and runners from the wind. The downwind portion was a blast, then we had to head back…. As hard as I tried, I couldn’t keep up with Jack Egan, and Terry was gone off in the distance somewhere. It was a long slog into the wind. Jack hugged the side of the lake and tried to hide from the wind, it looked like it worked. It was a pretty course, although I was secretly wishing we were going to go upstream to see the falls! As we rounded the last buoy and navigated the cross-chop, the recreational race was also finishing up. I found Corey immediately, who had entered the rec race on an inflatable board (since his was in the shop back in Wilmywood) and won! Harmony Dawn was the first lady across the line in the 3 miler. As racers continued to cross the line, there was a group of karate kids practicing their skills in the water next to the finish. That made it hands down the most interesting finish to any race I’ve ever been to. Amidst families screaming “GO, GO!” you would hear the group of kids yell, “HAI-YAH!!”
After the race, festivities continued. Log rolling was SO HARD! Veronica Ribot-Canales hopped on a log with me and showed me how it’s done after finishing second in the Elite race; she was a true log-rolling pro! Everyone stuck around the water’s edge to cheer as they held the adapted races for paddlers with disabilities. Back up at the vendor area, some aching racers got free alignments while hungry paddlers descended upon the very delicious Agava taco bar. The festivities wrapped up as the awards ceremony got underway. Prizes and recycled trophies were abundant, and they gave out local wine, coffee, and art to board classes and age divisions of all races. Full results are available on PaddleGuru (https://paddleguru.com/races/CayugaLakeSupCup).
There was a feel-good vibe to the whole afternoon, and I was less than stoked to get back on the road back to NC (where my QuickBlade paddle would somehow fly out of the truck in the middle of the night without so much as a peep and be lost forever). As much as I wanted the warm weather, I hated to leave the event and the eventual after party. It’s a heck of a haul from NC to participate in just a race… and this event wasn’t “just a race.” You always look for additional activities to make the trip a mini vacation, and this is one of those events! If you have the time next year, this is one for the SUP Bucket List.