The Watermans Paddle for Humanity (PFH) race series made its fourth stop this weekend in Washington D.C. Following the PFH format, the second to last stop in the series featured clinics, a three-event platform and parties to kick off and conclude the day of racing.
Elite paddlers Dave Boehne and Slater Trout started off the PFH festivities in the capitol with a clinic held Friday night at the race venue, the Washington Canoe Club. "Washington Canoe Club (WCC) was an incredible venue to hold the event at, as it is the oldest canoe club in the US; it's just across from the Pentagon and Watergate Hotel, so there was a pretty amazing background," Stirling said. Participants received tips and instruction from two of the top paddlers in the industry before having the opportunity to meet up with the Watermans crew for a social paddle and run through of Saturday's course. Kona Brewing Co. was on location post-paddle, serving cold beers and getting paddlers pumped for the following day's races.
Saturday's events brought hundreds of spectators and heated competition to the capitol with the 5k and 10k paddles as well as the signature CPR. "By 7 a.m. spectators were already lining the river," said event director Pete Stirling. "We had a few hundred participants, as well as a few hundred spectators and participation really exceeded all expectations," Stirling said. "This was the largest PFH race thus far and we had almost every state on the East Coast represented," he added.
In the 5k, Macky Hall and Jason Beakes battled it out for the overall first place, with Hall (31:35) taking the overall win by only two seconds over Beakes (31:37). Chris Lee (31:56), Chris Sperry (32:13) and Michael Faulkner (32:21) finished in the third, fourth and fifth overall places on the men's side, racing stock (12'6). Mary Bain (36:39), also racing stock, took the win for the ladies with almost a minute lead over second place finisher, Karen Apolloney (37:38), who raced in the SUP surfboard division. Rounding out the top five places overall for the women were Marissa Hedman (37:51), Katie Elzer-Peters (38:19) and Jenn Boggs (38:37).
The 10k saw tight races on the men's side with Slater Trout, Dave Boehne, and Wesley Stolp battling it out for the overall finish. Trout (52:58) came out on top with Boehne (53:04) and Stolp (53:08) finishing only seconds behind. Christopher Johnson (53:56) and Billy Miller (54:37) had great finishes as well, respectively placing in fourth and fifth overall. "The top three guys really battled back and forth for the most of the race," Stirling said. "Stolp was ahead for the first three miles or so before Trout took the lead and finished almost a board length ahead of Bohene" Stirling added.
Annabel Anderson (58:30) added another win to her repertoire with a strong finish over the ladies, despite racing an unfamiliar board. "Annabel's board was at an airport a couple hours away, so she got a board on race day, which didn't have a pad, and she still took the win," explained Stirling. Dawn Ehman Marohl (1:01:48) took the second place ahead of Kimberly Sutton (1:02:25), Elizabeth Deeley (1:05:16) and Anne Gassett (1:07:52).
The Chuck Patterson Rally (CPR) was a hit once again, with paddlers racing inflatable SUPs around a short buoy course. Participants took advantage of the minimal racing rules, not only standup paddling, but prone paddling, bumping, and pushing competitors off their boards. "The CPR was a lot of fun and once people realized there weren't many rules, they got really into it," Stirling said.
Next up in the PFH series is the final stop in Austin, Texas, September 15. "We're excited for the final stop in the series, which will take place in the heart of the city and really put the event on the forefront," said Stirling. - SC