Wednesday, August 29, 2012

2012 mr 340 Part 2

2012 mr 340 Part 2
 View from the crew (as observed by Karen)
                                      Leaving Kaw Point (pictured) to checkpoint #1 = 50 miles
Check point #1 Lexington, MO

Shane:  The first 50 miles of the race were  tougher than last year.  The river was moving half the speed.  But I still managed to get a good start off the line and settle in towards the upper middle of the pack.  I let all the inexperienced paddlers sprint in the beginning and didn't try to pace with them.  But I kept a pretty strong pace in the sprint (the first hour or so).  After an hour of humpin it, I slowed my paced a little. 
     I'll admit it, I'm not a sprinter, I'm a distance guy.  I hate the beginning of races when I have to jump out in the sprint to get in a decent position.  I feel like I'm going to puke about 30 minutes in.  I always feel like i'm sucking down way too much water and make myself feel sick. It usually takes me a good hour and a half to get into a race pace where my body relaxes and I can just race.
The 50 miles seem to go by fast, but I'm definately earning it.  I manage  to keep just under a 7mph pace for the 50 mile stretch. Post race I look at the time splits of coming into the checkpoint and going out.  It reads: Time in 14:30   Time out 14:30.  No time wasted on land. Nice!
Karen: I don’t remember much about the Lexington stop itself, but I do remember what happened on the way there.  The first thing we had to do was get gas.  While there we got a hearty breakfast of spicy chicken strips and biscuits with gravy.  A deli in a gas station?  How awesome is that!?!?  I should also mention that we were using Michael’s TomTom to navigate around.  He chose the option named “Jane”, which was a woman’s voice with an English accent.  She kept telling us to “turn onto the motorway.”  Motorway?  Really?  Does she think that we drive on the left side of the road too?  This would be the first of many times that we would yell at her that famous line by Dan Akroyd in Saturday Night Live, “Jane, you ignorant slut!” 
Moving on, we were driving by a cornfield (the constant running scenery of the entire trip) when we saw a store on the side of the road that was called—I kid you not—Nerd’s.  They sold heavy lawn equipment.  Because when I think of nerds, I think of them using lawn mowers and chain saws.  Don’t you?  This was too much of an opportunity to literally pass by.  We got out and started the first of what would be many stops to take stupid tourist pictures.
  After a bit we moved on to the checkpoint.  The first leg was one of the longest and everyone seemed to be waiting longer than usual since the river was really slow.  We spent the time working on song lyrics for Shane’s luchador theme song as well as getting all his replenishment supplies ready.  One of the first arrivals was Joe, paddling at a ridiculous pace. 
Joe in his 21' Huki S1x
It also seemed like it had taken a lot out of him.  The heat was already unbearable, upper 90’s and would be around 100 degrees all week long.  Somewhere around 150 of the 400 boats would never finish the race (some never even started), the heat being the major contributor.  Like I said, I don’t remember much of Shane coming in and out, but he came a lot later than we thought, and scrambled out quickly.  I sent in the obligatory checkpoint text to race officials saying Shane had come in and left.  I’m sure I was one of the only ones, if not THE only one in the race to get back an encouraging text, “Go Shane!”  Did I mention that Shane has cult status in this race?  One of the only ones that had more people than just his ground crew clapping and cheering for him when he pulls in and out of a checkpoint. It was sometime after the first stop when Elissa called  (Shane's wife) and asked if Shane had his phone.  Of course, we said, it’s mandatory.  Has to have it.  Safety thing, you know.  She said she was tracking him down Highway O.  When we got to the next stop, we figured out why.
Waverly, MO  Checkpoint #2
73 miles in
Sure enough, we found the yellow iPhone in the car. Elissa must have thought we were dragging Shane down the street like a water skier. At Waverly, we met up with the usual crowd—Ben, Madeline, Jill and Jeremiah. 
     Pre-race, I sent Shane desperate emails asking how I do this ground crew thing.  He said he was just happy to see his crew when he came ashore. With a good mental attitude being one of the key components to finishing such a grueling race, I decided to make him REALLY happy to see us. Needless to say, I got a LOT of double takes and giggles, and several people stopped me to take pictures. The leader of the Boy Scout troop that was manning a concession stand there stopped me and got a pic of me with the kids. The Scouts didn’t look too enthusiastic about it, but their leader sure was.
                                                        Checkpoint #2 Yup, this happened!
Finally Shane came into view.  I gave my camera to Jeremiah and started to do a hula dance on a rock.  Shane cracked up.  Mission accomplished.  “Is there more?” he asked.  “Maybe,” I teased.  We took a pic. That would be one of his favorites of the race.  It’s now somewhere on the Facebook universe.  My mother would be so proud.  He relaxed for a few minutes, but then got antsy and hurried when he saw other racers come in.  He jumped on his board and pushed off, refusing to take his phone and leaving before we could fully supply him. 
     It was a frustrating stop, especially since we found out he wasn’t eating or drinking very much.  I yelled harshly after he pulled out, “Eat something!!”  About 50 people on the ramp, including Shane, turned and looked at me, shocked at my tone of voice.  I’m sure I looked absolutely ridiculous, standing there with a scowl on my face and  wearing coconuts and a grass skirt.  Michael came running down the ramp with more supplies and lights for the coming darkness and was upset that Shane had already left.  We were starting to learn the balance between what we thought Shane needed versus what Shane knew he needed.  It would be a fine line that we would walk for the next 50 hours.
Shane:  A funny thing happens when I race.  I act involuntarily at times.  In this instance I knew the checkpoint was taking way too long.  Something pushes me me to get back on the board and go.  I can't explain it. It's just something that happens. The racing mindset takes control.
                                                               Leaving the checkpoint
Miami, MO - Checkpoint #3
105 miles in
Karen: The next stop was Miami, Mo.  To say we got there the hard way would be the understatement of the century.  We plugged the coordinates into “Jane” and headed out.  Jane, the ignorant slut, decided to take a shortcut.  Instead of taking us east and then north along the main roads, she decided to cut a diagonal path that went through a conservation area.  My first clue was when the road went from paved to gravel.  “Are we sure this is right?”  Michael had pulled out my sleek new Android phone with a million features that I have yet to learn, and turned on the navigation system.  “Yeah, see, it’s right here, we’re just cutting through.” 
It was dark when we pulled into the lot.  We hung out with Jeremiah and he showed us the huge scary beat-up green van he was driving. We waited for our teams and Michael and I plotted--it was now late, past 11pm, we had no reception on our phones and we knew we had to convince Shane to take his phone with him overnight, for safety if nothing else.  Unfortunately, poor Elissa was waiting for news, and between our adventure in the conservation area and not having reception, she had no clue what was happening. 
    However, this turned into a really good checkpoint.  Shane was in great spirits, ate and drank a lot and seemed to actually relax.  Surprisingly, he put up no fight when we told him how prudent it was to take his phone with him.  When he paddled off at 11:35pm, Michael commented on how easily Shane took his phone.  “You know why, don’t you?” I asked.  Michael looked at me blankly.  “No, why?”  “He has to call in to do that radio show tomorrow morning!”  Michael looked at me and busted up laughing.  Shane always has an agenda …
Shane:  When I race I have a ton of stuff running through my head.  I have plans for each day and goals. I actually make phone calls during races, I schedule things, I check in with my Wife at times, even check my email.  I know, pretty ridiculous. 
    But in this instance, this was something different.  I am such a lucky  dude. I am fortunate enough to be the Midwest SUP reporter for Radio Chum.  It's the first 24/7 SUP radio station.  It has good music and they give updates to what's happening in the SUP world.
 So I specifically didn't bring my phone all day so I wouldn't use it so i'd have enought battery to call in for the show. And oh yah, Radio Chum gives out the esteemed honor of being awarded a luchador name and mask if you achieve some kind of awesomeness. 
                                               I have been christened El Agua Escorpion!

Monday, August 27, 2012

2012 Mr340

2012 MR340
This ain't your Momma's float trip

            Something really interesting happened after this year's MR340 race here in Missouri.
  (The  MR 340 is 340 miles non-stop on the Missouri river ).  One of my crew, Karen Schubert, wrote her perspective from a crew's P.O.V. of the race and sent it to me.  After reading it I realized I only tell my side of the race story and what I experience.  The crew gets to observe the details like when I come into a check point and I look like crap.  When on my side of it, I think I'm ok, but they see otherwise.  I thought for this race write up I'd share Karen's perspective and add a little narrative of my own. So here goes
Karen: Sitting here watching the Olympics a few days after the finish of the MR 340, I watch 15-year-old Katie Ledecky win a swimming gold medal.  Not only that, she almost broke the world record and blew away the rest of the field by a couple of seconds.  Not bad for a girl that a year ago wasn’t even eligible for the Olympic trials. Now she’s on the gold medal podium—one of those “burst-on-the-scenes” athletes that will no doubt be talked about for a while because of her amazing accomplishment.
I know a guy kind of like that.  Shane is taking traditional water races and turning them on their ear with things that haven’t been done before—heck, they weren’t even THOUGHT of before.  So when he asked me to be part of his ground crew for the MR340, I jumped at the chance.  It was like being asked to be the personal assistant for a rock star.  Hecks, yeah!
Shane warned me it wasn’t going to be easy, and I figured that.  But for some reason I just felt like it was a perfect fit for me, and I couldn’t wait for the time to come.  He had asked me six months before, and after a million questions (and getting about 12 real answers) and several trips to Walmart for supplies (“You want me to get tampons for gunshot wounds???”), we were ready to go.
DAY 1 – Monday, July 30th
                                                       From left to right, Team #1115
                                           Karen (crew), Shane (racer), Michael(crew)
Getting to his house on Monday, we were already late out of the chute.  Shane had to work and had just gotten home, his wife Elissa had to get the rental car, and Michael, my ground crew partner in crime was running behind.  We finally got out of the starting blocks and headed across the state on I-70 to Kansas City.  As someone who gets carsick if I’m not driving, I became the default driver.  I don’t know if Michael and Shane ever regretted that decision, but I knew my job was to get us there ASAP.  “What’s the speed limit here?” became a popular question as I pushed the envelope to get to KC as quickly as possible.  With a quick pit stop at Steak N Shake to grab food,
                            Michael- Crew for the Texas Water Safari and now for the MR340
Pit stop at steak and shake
 we made it in just under four hours.  Shane jumped out of the car to go to the meeting as we pulled up.  After parking the car, Michael and I went in as the meeting had just ended and found ourselves swimming upstream through a mass of humanity.  We found Shane and then chased him around as he made the rounds socially, checked in with the race officials and picked up all his racing giveaways.  We met up with Jill, from Piddle Paddle LLC in KC, who was letting us stay overnight at her house, as well as her husband Doug who was in the race.  Also staying there was Shane’s good friend (and last year’s ground crew, my savior for answering all my questions), Dwayne and his ground crew Ben.  By the time we got there, ate spaghetti, played with Marlow the big German shepherd, hung out and figured out who was sleeping where, it was somewhere close to midnight.  We have to get up when???  Dwayne, Ben, Doug and Jill wanted to leave at 5am.  Thank goodness we decided on leaving at 6am.  A petite flower like myself needs her sleep—and has to get in a good shower.
 Day 2 – Tuesday, July 31st
Kaw Point -Starting line
 Race day!!!! I woke up excited, and a little bleary-eyed. Shane already had his game face on. Very little talking, serious, urging us to get out the door. Our gas tank was almost on empty and I was just hoping to get there before the car puttered to a stop in the middle of the highway. Fortunately we made it there and followed everyone to the river front—a little too far. I went down a boat ramp that I’m sure I wasn’t supposed to into the crowd. By the time we realized it, it was too late. A car has already followed me down the ramp, and I couldn’t back up. Oh well, might as well use it to our advantage! We unloaded the board and immediately started attracting looks as people noticed that we didn’t have a traditional boat. After an official directed me to get my car out of the way, we helped Shane get his board down the ramp and into the water.
 I heard a lady ask, “What is that?”  A little voice, a boy around 7 or 8 answered, “Oh, I know!  It’s a board and you stand up on it and paddle it.”  Wow!  I guess it IS getting more popular!  We met another good friend of Shane’s, Joe and his niece Madeline who was his ground crew.  She along with Ben would prove to be great comrades-in-arms during the race.  Shane pushed his board into the water, followed it out and dunked himself under.  Sigh.  The river stink starts.  Couldn’t he have waited to get wet?  Shane went way out, then over to the side near some brush and pulled out his surprise.  Donning a yellow and black luchador mask, he paddled along the shore, calling out Wally from Los Humongos Paddleos.  The crowd got a big kick out of it, and Shane ended up in the KC newspaper.  The debut of El Agua Escorpion is a hit! 
At 7am, after the national anthem and a shot of a musket and a cannon, off they went.  Almost 200 solo paddlers dashed down the Kaw River toward the Missouri River.  Michael and I decided to stick around and watch the multi-paddler group leave an hour later.  That’s when the things got interesting.  Wally from Humongos Paddleos came by in full luchador costume. 
 Some of the vessels were, um, unusual.  The catamaran.  The canoe that was so long that it was two pieces and had to be bolted in the middle so it could be taken apart to be transported.  The boat where each paddler had a canopy over their heads.  Whispers along the bank: “They’re going in THAT?  They’re never going to make it …” 
I’m sure many people said the same about Shane.  Actually, the phrase I heard again and again was, “He’s crazy.”  Or the variation on that: “That’s crazy that he’s doing that.”  Shane’s crazy and what he’s doing is crazy.  Yup, that about covers it.
After a few fun photos with the Musket Man, Michael and I decided to get on the way to the first check point, Lexington, MO.  And that’s when the fun started.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Rando's Race questions

Rando's Race Questions

That was one crazy race. Here's some questions for you...
Rando: 1. For ultra distance flat water SUP (mostly lakes) do you think that carbon boards are the ticket? 

Shane: You'll definately save weight by a carbon board. But something to remember is long periods of sun and heat will warp carbon.  You almost have to put a skirt covering over the top to protect the board. 
 The most important thing about choosing a board for Ultra distance SUP is the board has to work for what your purpose is. I highly recommend trying out a ton of boards before you buy one. Any reputable dealer will let you demo a board before you buy.  Feel the board. Take it out for an hour paddle if they let you. if not, ask to rent it for an hour.  Load it down with your gear and paddle it.  Then ask yourself, can I do this for multiple days?

 Pau Hana made an 18' full carbon board for me for the TWS but when we sat down and looked at the race logistically, the 18' full carbon wouldn't work.  The carbon is brittle and it wouldn't be able to take 5 days of sun and lots of hits by rocks.  We went with the 14' crossfit by Pau Hana (fibergalss) and coated the bottom with Pau Hana's rubberized technology to absord a ton of hits.

Rando: 2. Is there anything wrong with a very soft rubber fin for shallow river stuff? Or is it ineffective on the total flats when you need better tracking? Is the ProTech fin you used flex much, or is it only the edges that give?

Shane:  It's all about the terrain you'll be in.  If you're in shallow, rocky rivers or lakes then definately go with a rubberized fin.  I used the 7":  Proteck Superflex fin from Surfco Hawaii.  It took alot of hits and rolled/folded over stuff. It worked well for the first 80 miles of the race. Then when the river got deeper I switched to a 9" Proteck performance fin also from Surfco Hawaii.  It's more stiff and is great for tracking while still being able to hit stuff and not destroy a fin.
When you're talking ultra distance play it safe and carry an extra fin or two.  They don't take much room and
are easy to swap out if the terrain changes.

Rando: 3. Have you ever tried the Seattle Sports Lashmate instead of the EZ Plug for attaching gear?

Shane:: I don't have any experience with the Lashmates. They look to be alright. I just don't know enough about them. 
I go with Surfco's EZ-plugs because I've used them for over 800 miles of racing this season and they haven't failed me. Plus they're $6.95 vs. the Lashmate's $24.95.  But I am interested if someone has used the Lashmate to fill me in what they think of it.

Rando: 4. Any experience with traveling at night with a GPS for navigation?

Shane: I used a Garmin E-20 for the Texas Water Safari.  It worked really well.  Saved my butt from making what would have been dumb decisions on cuts that I would have taken had I not had the gps.  A few weeks later I did a 63 mile race in Missouri and dropped the Garmin in the Missouri river.
I'd definately recommend a gps for Ultra distance.  it's super useful. Plus It'll tell you if you're dragging ass and need to stop to rest and fuel up with is average mph.

Rando: 5. Have you ever resorted to using kayak style double paddles in upwind conditions?

Shane:  I sold all my kayaks and canoes last year. Along with them all my double blades.  To me, it doesn't make sense to use anything other than a SUP paddle when on a SUP.  Worst case you can kneel down and choke up on the SUP paddle if you have to. personally I like occasional headwinds, they remind me how easy I have it when the weather is calm.

Rando:  6. Regarding your ankle swelling. Is that due to the many hours on the board that might happen to anyone, or is that something unique that you have experienced? 

Shane: In the hundreds miles of racing, the Texas race is the first time that the swelling has happened.  I wear compression pants that stop above the ankle.  then I wear Columbia's power drain running shoes that are under the ankle. The one exposed area not compressed in some manner is my ankles.  That's where the source of swelling  began and then spread as I took off my shoes, then later took off my compression pants.

If anyone ever has any questions or even wants to pick my brain on anything. Please email me @

Monday, August 13, 2012

Texas Water Safari Part 10 Post race

Texas Water Safari Part 10 - Post race

Once on shore I am all smiles. I try not to show my leg is killing me and proceed as normal. I think just the people's support at the finish line was enough to make me forget a little about it. I get the board on shore and for some reason I am worried about taking the fin off the bottom before I stop to take it all in.  Michael keeps yelling at me to forget the fin and just relax.  I take it off anyway.

     I don't even really think of what I just accomplished until the next day.  This night I just am happy to be amongst friends I've met along the river.  I was able to meet and enjoy so much of the Texas paddling community.  The paddlers, the crew, the people that heard about the stand up guy that came out just to see him.   Some who stayed out late (4am) just to see me in to the finish.  People like Robert Youens that was there to see me in.  Also West Hansen that was there, who had helped me through alot of emails with pre-race planning prior to the race.  People that I look forward to seeing again hopefully at the 51st TWS.  People that just wanted to shake my hand and say, " man that is unbelieveable what you just did."   People like Zoltan Mraz and his crew. I take the feeling in and just enjoy it.

                                                 Zoltan finishes his 12th TWS out of 22 attempts!

 Morning shows up. This time I'm not paddling through the night.
Seadrift, TX  The finish

Michael and I just hang out a little bit and put the board out by other boats.  We stay until the sun comes up, then decide it's time to get some sleep.  Then I get the awesome news from Michael that he went to our hotel at 2am and they gave away our reservation because they thought we weren't coming.  So the hunt for a place to crash begins.  It ends shortly after we talk with Robert Youens and he says there are hotel rooms in walking distance that the TWS rented that are for showering up post race and that we are welcome to crash there.  Greatly appreciated, we take him up on a shower and some sleep.  6:30am I finally hit the sheets in a bed after 4 nights of sleeping on the ground. I'm out to sleep, fast.  Until I wake up at 8:30am to Michael and another gentleman screaming at each other outside the hotel door.  I get up and walk over, half alive, and ask what's going on.  They both become quiet and I'm left confused.  I walk back in the room to Michael's explaination. They were telling Michael we didn't have permission to be sleeping in the room. Michael tried to explain we did. Then the yelling. Then the half alive me walks over.. yada yada.

   We gather our stuff and go to leave.  Within 10 minutes Michael and the guys are apologizing to each other and shaking hands, even hugging.  Apparently the 2 guys outside the hotel room had a rough TWS. They both DNF'd (did not finish).  They were racing to raise funds for vets and were upset they didn't make it to the end. 
No worries. Who needs sleep at this point.  We leave and go towards the finish line area again.

   The awards ceremony is getting ready to take place in a few hours and we make our way over to mingle. I talk to an old timer that raced the TWS back in the 70's.  Bucky shows me a scrap book from back in the day when he used to build canoes to race.  They are crazy looking. He proudly tells me his number of finishes.  Yet he also includes the number of times he did not finish.  It's an amazing conversation we have for about 20 minutes.   

     I get to talk to a lady who asks me about the story of my kidney transplant which I explain.  In this conversation, this is where I learn that our fallen brother, Brad Ellis, was able to donate multiple organs upon his leaving us.  Amazing! His thoughtfulness is something most people never think about.  All it takes to become an organ donor is to go to the dmv or online and update your license.
        Joy (who I later learn is a heck of a paddler herself)  asks if it's ok to relate my story in conjunction with her speaking on Brad and the collection they are taking up for his family. I whole heartedly agree.

                       Joy Emshoff (left) with Ginsie Stauss make a donation box for Brad Ellis' services

I meet a host of others that want to hear my story, but all I want to do is hear their story and how they are involved with the TWS. I see alot of people that I spent time with at the checkpoints.  I see the Garcia family at breakfast at a local diner.  Allie gives me a cool bracelet that matches my race colors.  Just all around good people.

Allie Garcia and friend Daniel on the far left.
 Becky  Garcia with the blue shirt and to her left Don Garcia who paddled
with Team Cuatro Sinko.

After a morning of story swapping and talking to just open and friendly people, the awards ceremony begins.  They hand out plaques to all finishers.  Being the 50th anniversary, it's a huge deal. For a race to exist this long and to have people year after year come back is amazing.

                                                     What you see on the back of my Jeep!

After a few other people are called up, they come to me.  As I walk up to hear the folks clapping and cheering, it's overwhelming.  I'm honored that they've included me in this race. I truely feel accepted within the Texas paddling community.  People are genuinely happy for me to be there on that stage.  To be out on the course that so many of them have been on, they know what it took for me to get to this point to be able to consider myself a TWS finisher. I later am told  there are only about 221 solo finishers in the TWS 50 year history.  I'm told I'm the 220th

The things I received on this stage: 50 year race anniversary award, TWS patches, a hearty handshake, an amazing applause, Respect from the texas paddling community, and most of all, belonging.

Befor eleaving the stage, I'm goated into saying something.  I'm so in the moment of where I'm at that I can't even think of what to say on the mic. Here's what comes out:

The rest of the day is just hanging out and enjoying being on land amongst friends. Michael takes the board out and has some fun in the bay. He even gives some lessons to a couple teens wanting to get out on the board.  I watch as the parents on land are all smiles watching their kids have fun.  That's what it's all about for me.  People enjoying the sport. 

We leave Texas that evening for St. Louis. It's a tough one. I am so in love with this paddling community in Texas. They truely are the most genuinely caring and supportive folks around. I can't even count the number of people that helped me through the TWS. Even post race they're still helping me through support and SUP promotion.
                                People like Debbie Richardson, who placed 1st in women's solo.  Post race she's  been a huge help.

Lindsay Stillman. Who's making a short documentary of my Texas Water Safari experience.  Out soon...  Plus she's fundraising to get me back down to the CR100 race in Texas.

And there a bunch more people. Like Cindy Meurer who's letting me stay at her house for the CR100.

I just am amazed by the generosity of eveyone.  My TWS experience has been like none other. There are loads of people to thank and I apologize if I don't get everyone. There are a few key players that I want to mention here:

 First and foremost: My wife.  She is the one who's home with my son Luke (2.5 yrs) and daughter Tessa (3 months) while I do all this crazy stuff. Through my training and racing, she's the rock at home. Also alot of credit to my mother in-law Patty.  She's a huge help too.

The crew for the TWS. Michael Rokos and Joe Baisa.  Without them, there was no TWS.  They came through in a huge way with crew support.  Great guys.

The Pau Hana guys.  Owners Todd Caranto and Royce Hanamaikai for being the first SUP company to believe in me and back me.  The 14' Pau Hana Crossfit is insane. Super fast and sleek.

Maui Jim. For their awesome shades. I rocked the Lagoon style shades for the TWS

Werner Paddles.  The Werner Grand Prix Bent Shaft is the Paddle that got me throught the race

Surfco Hawaii. Everything on my board was held down by Surfco's EZ Plug system. I also used a 7" and 9"  proteck rubber fin throught the race.

SlickSup. It's a co-polymer wax coating I use on all my boards.  It reduces drag and creates a slickness to the board.  Great product

Now the fun begins.  The season is winding down. I just finished the Mr 340 a couple weeks ago (340 miles). I have the Cr100 in a few weeks. Then the planning season starts.  I'm looking at some new races for next year. Longer distances and some expeditions.  I have to work on sponsors and strategies.  So there really is no down time for me. why do I do it? For the love of the sport!

If anyone ever wants to contact me for any reason please do.
  I'll do my best to return all emails within 2 days.
And If you're in the St. Louis are, check out
It's my SUP business. Lesson, rentals, and sales available.

     And to leave you with a little race humor:
Michael, I think it's too late for the this TWS racer