groupp photo of gun lake race participants

Midwest Paddle League Recaps Lake Lansing and Gun Lake Races

Midwest Paddle League Recaps Lake Lansing and Gun Lake Races

September 21-22 marked the season finale for the Midwest Paddle League with a back-to-back two race blow-out with Paddle for YOUR Cause on Lake Lansing, and Whatever It Takes on Gun Lake.

It’s been a terrific season in the Midwest, and it would be easy as we reflect on the last weekend to recount the many great times we’ve had. However, we’ll save that for a season recap article and focus on the two recent events, and season awards.

Paddle for YOUR Cause

In the state Capitol of Lansing, Michigan things are rough these days. The roads are crumbling, and the new democrat Governor can’t seem to get along with the state congress.  30 miles away on Lake Lansing, there where 30-some paddlers that could have cared less about any of that.

The water has no potholes.

As with all Shaka SUP Racing events this event donates a portion of all entry fees to a charity, but this race is unique in that you, the racer, get’s to decide which charity it goes to. For this race, participants got to choose  between 1 or all 4 local charities including Make A Wish – Michigan (fulfilling dreams of their wish kids), Young Survival Coalition (dedicated to the critical issues unique to young women and breast cancer), Ingham County Animal Shelter (providing care, rescue, shelter and food to area animals) and the Kennedy Tennant Memorial Fund.

In addition to the poor condition of the roads in Michigan, another downside is that in late September, the weather can be a bit unpredictable. Turns out much like the potholes, the racers didn’t have to worry too much about that. Indian summer was in full effect with clear skies, mid-80’s, and very little wind to speak of.

lake lansing at sunrise
Photo Doug Vojtko

Lake Lansing is a smallish lake, which made for an interesting course layout. The 1-mile race was a simple there and back around a single buoy on the far end of the lake. The Short and Long races had the added complexity of doing a lap of the lake, with a crossing of the lake and back upon finishing the lap. The short race was a single lap while the long-distance racers completed two laps. All told, the short racers did almost 4 miles while the distance race was just short of 8 miles.

The race had the added dynamic of being the second to last race, many racers in attendance where trying to qualify for season end awards or improve their standings in the best-of-5 race championship.

Photo Doug Vojtko
Photo Doug Vojtko

The 1-mile youth race was won by Lorenzo Cruz-Hausbeck. The women’s race featured a battle between Tiffany Adams and Marissa Cruz, with Tiffany getting the best of the contest. Gabe Hausbeck won in the Men’s division, making the 1-mile SUP race a largely Cruz-Hausbeck family affair. Kris Tenant and JoEllen Heinz competed in the kayak division and finished 1-2.

There was a single water start for both the short and long distances making it a fairly crowded affair with competitors on both race and surfstyle SUPs, Kayaks, and surfskis.

Photo Lisa Marie Everling

In the short distance, the best time of the day went to surfski competitor William Morrrow with the class win at 43:36.  The Kayak class was won by Jerry Dihle with Rick Ensley taking 2nd. Gwen Stevenson made a strong showing in her kayak to take the women’s top honor.

One of the more interesting matchups of the day went to Nashville musician and strong paddler Adrian Barnett and Midwest Paddle League maestro Doug Vojtko. Adrian got a jump out of the gate and led Doug around the perimeter of the lake maintaining 3-5 board lead for most of the race. However by the last buoy, Doug was able to reel Adrian in and make the pass with a strong turn. In the end, Doug held on for the win with a margin of just 28 seconds. Patrick Reeg took 3rd.

Mike Bartos and Angelique Meiu flew the flag for men’s and women’s surf style class

In the women’s short-distance class, Ryan Meade took the win in plenty of time to still make her freshman Homecoming dance, but second place finisher Shannon Gerow made her work for it, finishing just 4 seconds behind. Tammy Royston rounded out the podium.

In the long-distance races, the surfskis again dominated the overall times with Michael Meridith, beating out Yvon Dufour by less than a minute. David Wisner took third. Thomas Behl completed the distance in a traditional kayak for the win in that class.

Photo Doug Vojtko
Photo Doug Vojtko


Photo Doug Vojtko
Photo Doug Vojtko

Wendy Anderson solidified her position as a women’s SUP contender with her 1st place finish.

In the men’s division, Bryan Block had a runaway win with a two-minute margin over Wes Harpham. Yours truly, Harrison Withers, had a great paddle with super paddler and nice-guy Karl Eugster for most of the race. We took turns drafting for most of the race. When it came down to the finishing stretch, I told Karl I would yield, but he wouldn’t have it. We decided to let it go to a sprint at the finish, except when I started the sprint Karl held back and let me take the final podium spot. Karl’s a true gentleman and an undeniable class-act.

Special mentions to Keith Conway, who took a wrong turn somewhere around Albuquerque and ended up doing over 10 miles, and marathon man Bernie Isacovici who never quits and always finishes with a smile.

Full results here.

The event was sponsored by the Greater Lansing Sports Authority, Waverly Chiropractic, and Berry Builders of Eaton Rapids.

Full photo gallery can be found here.

Whatever It Takes on Gun Lake

Do you feel lucky?

Think you can beat the odds?

There are a couple ways to gamble in Michigan. The casino is one way, there’s one just down the street from the race. However, the big gamble on 9/22 was the weather. 90% chance of rain with a forecast of 10 blowing to 20.

But this was the last race of the season, championships were on the line.

And that was a risk worth taking…

Turns out we all won as the rain and wind stayed away for the entire race.

The season was set finish the season in the same spot it began, Gun Lake Beach. The 3rd annual Whatever It Takes race, is another benefit paddle from Shaka SUP Racing, this time the supporting charity was Mackenzie’s Animal Sanctuary, the largest no-kill shelter in the Midwest. The event was sponsored by a local business, Elite Auto Clinic, MWPL series sponsor Footstake, and a new sponsors to the Midwest, LockRack and SIC Maui.

Course was a basic v shape with 2 lefts and a right-hand buoy turn per lap, single lap for the 3-mile crowd and 2 laps for the 6-mile race. Like all Shaka SUP Racing events, a one-mile option was also available.

All 40+ racers started in a single wave in a water start.

Tim Grant and Sarah Alenna tackled the one mile  on SUPs, while Corrinne Erickson finished in a kayak.

For the 3-mile race, Mike Bartos and Angelique Meiu owned the surf style classes, with Jessi Flath taking second for the women.

William Marrow and Linda Mcginess where the men’s and women’s winners in Kayaks, with Wayne Blaylock taking 2nd in Men’s.

In Men’s 14’ SUP, Adrian Barnett and Doug Vojtko went head-to-head in a rematch from the previous day. In a reversal of fortunes, Adrian pulled out the win this time. Patrick Reeg paddled a strong race for another 3rd place finish.

The women’s 3-mile race was rife with excitement as Ryan Meade and Laura Kinnie where in a dead heat for the championship going into the day. Julie Miller ended up with the win in the 14’ class, and Kathy McRae took the win in 12’6”.  Kate Doezema took second, Leaving Ryan and Laura to battle for the third and final podium spot. Laura got the better of Ryan on this day, but Ryan’s win the day before meant the championship had to go to the bean counters.

The 6-mile race also carried championship implications for some and was a full-out gunslinging sprint of a race.

Yvon Dufour and Mark Irish set the pace on their surfskis, with Ken Meadows taking the third spot on the podium.

Kirsten Lefeldt won the women’s class just a few short days after returning from her 3rd place finish in the 11-ctities tour in Europe. Kattie Carpenter took 2nd place.

In the Men’s class Brian LeFeve pulled out a carbon copy dominant win, just like every other race he has started in this year. 5 starts, 5 wins. The guy is an absolute machine. Daniel Novak paddled in for a strong 2nd while making a fashion statement by wearing a quite stylish kilt. Alex Sandler paddled hard and earned 3rd place honors.

Full results can be found here.

Awards ceremony was at the park about 20 minutes after the last racer came in.

The thing that’s hard to articulate about the race was the vibe. People where absolutely happy to be there, but there was also a palatable sense, that we weren’t ready for it to end. There was a real awareness of it being the last race of the season and the very real fear that we might not see each other for a while. It was the perfect end to a near perfect season in the Midwest.

Full Photo gallery can be found here.

However, there was one more thing left to do…

Drink beer.

Crown our season champions. However, that’s a topic for another article.

About the Midwest Paddle League

Welcome to the Midwest Paddle League – designated for SUP paddlers, by SUP paddlers. If you’ve never raced before, or you race most weekends, with kid’s races, short races, long races, sprints and more… there is an event for YOU! Come for the challenge, stay for the camaraderie. Here in the Midwest, it’s COMMUNITY FIRST. COMPETITION SECOND.