At every paddle event, big or small, the real success lies in the experience and attitude of everyone involved; organizers, volunteers, spectators, and of course, the paddlers. The water can be a nightmare and the weather even “worserer”, but if the people are stoked, enthusiastic and positive in their quest (whatever that may be), then it becomes…wait for it…. EPIC!
Chattajack has become one of those races. It IS everything that IS amazing. The hard work that Ben Friberg and Kim Sutton (two extremely accomplished everything athletes and very nice people) put in is astounding. They know everyone involved or racing by name, they know every inch of the river, and all they ask is that you come with an open heart and well trained arms.
From hell fog to sunshine and strong winds, every year is different
This is an event that is now legendary and its only four years old. Each of those four years, the weather has been different, from hell fog to sunshine and strong winds. This event brings paddlers from all over. This year had paddlers traveling from Denmark, Florida, NY, Washington state (go Mermaid ladies!), Minnesota, Wisconsin, and of course, Canada (Larry Cain set a course record on Sunday BTW). The Bark paddle family makes the trip from California to paddle it. That kind of draw means the competitive field is tough for those that are serious racers.
Competitive or to finish, no matter where anyone places at this event, there are many stories of what it took to get to there. Some just dial in their training and its all wine and cake. Then there are some who used this event to push past personal difficulties or physical challenges. It gave them a goal. It gives them direction.
The 100/100 blows up and shows up
With the 100/100 Paddle Challenge facebook group, it gave over 50 100/100 paddlers a chance to hang out with their buddies before, during and after the action. The draw to be part of Chattajack is infectious.
This year, “Flat Julia” made a legendary appearance at Chattajack. I was unable to go this year, but the 100/100 folk were going to help me participate anyways and how they did that is pretty cool.
It started with my Wisconsin 100/100 friend Debbie Klapperich making her own “Flat Julia”. From there, Flat Julia got to travel to the event with Lisa Schell, race the event on Debbie and Anya’s boards, cheered and rang cow bells at the finish line with Debbie Renner, worked as a Sherpa with Katie Elzer-Peters, and was even in a group 100/100 paddle photo. Flat Julia met Shred Dog, hung with Dottie Hodge’s corgies AND made the podium with Anya Yurchenko! Flat Julia was popping up all over Chattajack. Hope she behaved and didn’t drink too much after Sarah Westbrook gave out 100/100 Chattajack koozies. Next year, this real Julia will be at the starting line or volunteering in person. I will not miss this event again, EVER!
There were many #chattajacknewbies and there was even a #chattavernacular that was developed. Again, an event that has its own language? What What? There’s #chattawackies, #chattawidow, #chattastoked, and #chattasnacks. Hashtag has to be included or its not #chattappropriate. That’s the positive energy this event creates. ‘
There are so many stories behind the racers and volunteers and the entire event that I’m just going to include random shots. Good job Ben and Kim! Good job podium placers! Good job #chattanewbies! Good job Hal Turner who paddled with Little Man the ENTIRE way! Good job everyone involved. Thank you for allowing Flat Julia to participate! I’ll see you all next year NO MATTER WHAT!
About the 100/100 Paddle Challenge
If you would like to join the 100/100 paddle challenge on Facebook, you can request entry to this closed group here. Basically, you have to ask to be a part of the challenge, participate in the challenge, engage the community, be positive, honest and supportive and have a legit Facebook profile that shows you paddle and are basically not a bot. This is the sole creation of Julie and she has first, middle and last say on the group. It’s a family. Julie is Momma Bear.