Paddle For Humanity Highlights
Watermans Paddle For Humanity hit Lady Bird Lake in Austin, Texas on September 13, for its third and final stop of 2014. Despite grey skies, rain, and the coldest weather recorded for September 13, more than 150 competitors showed up to throw down for charity. Events included a 5k short course, 10k long distance and the mystery challenge race, Rule 7. As with all Paddle for Humanity events, a portion of proceeds were donated to charities including MANNA, Avenues for Homeless Youth, and Million Mile Month. Check out Annabel Anderson’s recap below.
Paddling For Humanity In the Heart of Texas
In Texas, it's not often that the water temperature is significantly warmer than the air. But that’s exactly what played out in Austin for the latest Paddle For Humanity event.
Dawn marked the coldest September day on record, with the air temps hovering in the low 60s and intermittent rain showers descending from the ominous cloud banks hanging above. Well known for its music, college life, culture, tech growth and its rapidly growing skyline, Austin is a city blessed with a warm and temperate year round climate. You know, except for the day of Paddle for Humanity.
It’s no wonder that as the summer temperatures soar into the 90s and beyond, the healthy, active people of Austin have flocked to the dammed waters of the Colorado River and added SUP to their repertoire of year-round outdoor pursuits. It turns out that they’re not all fair-weather paddlers though. Despite the ominous forecast Lady Bird Lake sprang to life with standup paddlers on Saturday morning. It was clear that the precipitation was going to do little to get in the way of the days events.
Paddlers lined up in force for the five- and 10-kilometer races on offer. The conditions of Lady Bird Lake may have been flat but strategic avoidance of the large weed beds half way down the course meant not dragging 10 pounds of semi-submerged flora from the bottom of your board.
With the drizzle showing no sign of letting up and the temperature being warmer in the water than above it, Rule 7—the mystery challenge of the event infamous for its 'no-rule', ingenuity and skullduggery—provided the perfect chance to warm up by getting wet. Brooms were the new paddles, running jump skims started from the dock, 'sweeping' became a means of forward propulsion, bumper boats were on full-bore, anchor chains were dragged, blocking was encouraged, brooms were thrown and general sabotage were all on the table, much to the delight of the dockside spectators.
As usual, this event was more about the paddling and the after party than who paddled the fastest. It was clear from the registration party the night before that there were going more than a few match ups and sideline bets happening throughout the day.
Be sure to watch out for more Paddle For Humanity events as dates are announced for 2015 over the coming months.
About Paddle For Humanity
Paddle for Humanity was brain child of Pete Stirling and his former business partner Macon Brock.
The founders of the Watermans sunscreen brand, they wanted to create something that helped others experience the same reasons why they loved the water and loved to paddle.
What separates Paddle For Humanity from the proliferation of events that have popped up around the globe in the past five years is that it's more about the paddling and the after party than paddling the fastest. It's an event that is characterized by utilizing the best of the local environment has to offer, be it a beach, a river or the closest local bar.
In the fall of 2008 when Stirling and Macon were at a fund raising event for Surf Aid International. Both were moved by what the fledgling organization was doing and pledged to do something to help. Paddle for Humanity was born and in the years since, a minimum of 20% of registration fees has gone to charitable organizations of the paddlers’ choices or the benefactor of the event.
After our first event at Doheny State Beach, we started moving into new territories,” Stirling said. “Deerfield Beach (Florida) was our first East Coast destination. It changed the whole way I looked at the event series and we immediately started to look for ways to not only raise money and awareness for our NPO partners, but also show paddlers the social and political power of our community if we all act as one.
“Two months later we held our first event in Washington, DC. I think close to 70% of the people that showed up were on inflatables, with their paddles backwards and gear ranging from wetsuits, vests, helmets and dive knives to one guy that did the whole event in pants and a button up shirt.
"When we showed back up the next year over 200 people came from as far away as Miami and Vermont … SUP in DC was never the same.”
As PFH develops, expect to see it continue to grow, to visit new locations and fulfill the goal of bringing the paddling community together.
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