Oh Be Joyful kayak race goes off

Kayakers met with top shelf conditions

by Than Acuff

Nearly 100 fans lined the edges of Oh Be Joyful Creek to watch 28 kayakers hurdle themselves down the class V run at the Oh Be Joyful kayak race on Saturday, June 22. In the end, fractions of seconds divided the top three, with Noel Parker taking the top spot as the only one to crack the four-minute mark, and 21 of the 28 racers finishing the racecourse in under five minutes.

“It’s definitely being in the right place with the right stroke at the right time and staying in the flow to maintain speed,” explains race coordinator Paul Raymond. “Noel just seemed to be right where he needed to be the whole time.”

The water level for the race was perfect, according to Raymond, providing the athletes the opportunity to put down fast times.

“It was on the medium side of high,” says Raymond. “Not super high but filled out, fast and fluffy, a great level for the race.”

Remarkably, the race was without too much carnage as well. There were some swimmers, some of whom swam in tenuous sections of the creek, but with a safety team of 12 people along the course, Crested Butte Search and Rescue on hand for anything serious and competitors required to carry safety gear as well, things went relatively smoothly.

“We had a few swimmers but it was easily taken care of,” says Raymond. “CBSAR had a couple of guys there too if there was anything serious but thankfully we didn’t need any of that assistance.”

Still, while 28 did sign up, about only half of the field opted to do their second run. Milo Wynne has a long-standing history with the infamous creek run and was on hand as one of the safety team members stationed in the “Freedom Center” just below the biggest drop of the course.

“There were broken boats, broken noses, broken bones, broken balls and broken dreams,” says Wynne.

“I think people were tired with the higher flows and people were either satisfied with their first run or apprehensive about doing a second lap,” adds Raymond.

Raymond plans on continuing the tradition of the competition, given the positive experience of the race this year, but with a few changes.

“Nobody was in over their head, everybody who was racing knew what they were in for,” says Raymond. “I really liked the size of the crowd there but it’s hard because spectator impact is huge. We want to limit that but we also want people to watch, so that’s something we’re going to work on. Overall it was a huge success and we will do another one next year, depending on the weather.”

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