Category Archives: SUP

Continuing to Beat Cancer with a Paddle

By Corrie Seabrook

ArnieGoodman3Arnie Goodman slides his legs until they touch the end of his shallow kayak. He grips the paddle and glides along the water flowing through Riverfront Park in Tampa. He’s paddling just as he has done on this day for the past five years. The myeloma cancer is working through his body, dangerously. But Goodman keeps paddling, for himself and for a cure.

Goodman, 54, grew up in the waters off Fort Lauderdale. There he boated and sailed through the east coast waves. When he moved to Tampa he was introduced to kayaking, where he fell in love with the sport.

“It became my love,” he says.

At 47, he was a practicing ear, throat and nose physician and continued to swim and kayak regularly. Then he was diagnosed with myeloma cancer. He, his wife and their two kids stared into what was left of the time that this cancer had cut short.

He has dealt with the disease for more than seven years. Since the treatment is so extensive and time consuming, Goodman stopped practicing medicine. A year after the diagnosis, he formed the non-profit organization, Beat Cancer with a Paddle. Though the organization, Goodman, Russell Farrow (owner of Sweetwater Kayaks) and other sponsors created the “Sweetwater Paddle for the Cure” race in 2009.

This year’s event takes place on Sunday, May 5 from Tampa’s Riverfront Park.

SweetwaterThe race started with individuals and groups competing in kayaks. Then one year a man showed up with a stand-up paddleboard. “We thought, who’s this buff guy out there on a surfboard?” Goodman says. As the years have progressed, more and more paddle boarders have accompanied the kayakers.

The Sweetwater Paddle for the Cure doesn’t solely include endurance athletes. Parents bring their children to enjoy the day on the water in double kayaks. Beginners come to fall and try again on the kayak and paddleboard rentals.

“Paddleboard companies that work with us, Stand Up Paddle Life and Urban Kai, provide the boards and demo for those who want it,” Goodman says.

The participants set up in a staggered line. The gun blasts and the racers paddle off. The course takes the boarders down past the Tampa Convention Center and under the bridge. They swirl around three buoys up the channel and then hurry back to the finish.

The event’s target audiences are paddlers, newcomers to the sport, and those who come to support the cause. (All proceeds from the event benefit the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation and Be The Match National Bone Marrow Registry.) The event consists of a 5-mile race for time at 9 a.m. The second race is a 2-mile family fun paddle around the course. The event has raised more than $35,000 since 2009.

Goodman predicts that “the paddle boarders will probably outnumber the kayakers this year.”

This is the first year this race has become officially sanctioned by the World Paddle Association. It’s also the first time it will include a tie-in to firefighters.

Sweetwater2Tampa’s fire department will be volunteering alongside high school students. A unique race called the Firemen’s Challenge Relay will be set up specifically for the different firehouses to put their training to the test. These firefighters will sprint against each other for trophies and the cause.

Last fall Goodman endured a bone marrow transplant. He’s also undergone two stem cell transplants. Multiple myeloma accounts for just 1 percent of cancer cases but has claimed the lives of a number of prominent Americans, including Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton, syndicated advice columnist Ann Landers, and former vice presidential candidate Geraldine Ferraro.

After treatments, Goodman puts his energy into making this event a success despite how he feels. “It helps me to tolerate the side effects. You have to force yourself to do something even if you don’t feel good,” he says.

Recently Goodman received an email from a man suffering with myeloma. He expressed that he was coming from his home in New York to do the race. Goodman felt good from the impact he had made to someone in such a personal way.

Goodman continues to chug through his life kayaking with the cancer moving through his body like the river does beneath his vessel.

“I want people to remember this race and come back again. I’m going to keep going for as long as I can.”

Corrie Seabrook is an intern for EnduranceSportsFlorida.com and ObstacleFit.com.

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Pacifico – Stepping Up the SUP Race Experience

By Pete Williams

Start of Pacifico open race

ST. PETE BEACH – I heard footsteps. Make that splashes. For 77 minutes, I could not shake the paddler behind me at the second-annual Pacifico Paddle Challenge off St. Pete Beach on Saturday afternoon.

Were this a running event or triathlon, I probably would have let him pass. But there was money involved. Not much, just the $25 for third-place in the men’s stock board division of the 4-plus mile “elite” race, enough for me to understand how motivating a little cash can be in an athletic event.

And so I kept paddling. Hard. Stand-up paddling usually is a relaxing way to spend a leisurely afternoon. But when you’re hammering your core, pushing your lactate threshold, and trying to stay balanced on a 29.5-inch wide Yolo Ecotrainer, it’s a wonderful test of pain.

The four-lap technical course featured nine buoy terms per lap, each an opportunity to fall into an increasingly rough surf kicked up by afternoon winds. One fall is enough to lose 20 seconds.

I’ve often wondered why Shane “Waterboy” Webb and other organizers of SUP races feel the need to throw prize money into the mix. Does it attract more prominent athletes? Maybe. What I do know is it makes the race far more interesting for those of will never get any closer to being professionals – and those watching us.

Stand-up paddleboard racing might never be as big or as organized as road racing, triathlon, or obstacle mud racing. But as the second-annual Pacifico Paddle Challenge demonstrated here Saturday afternoon in front of the Postcard Inn, SUP racing is developing into a different race experience than other endurance sports.

Sure, there’s chip timing, T-shirts, various competitive divisions, race numbers, and post-race awards. But if you’re looking for an early-morning, to-the-minute itinerary that gets you home by 11 a.m. like running or triathlon, well, SUP racing might not always be for you.

The first of Pacifico’s four races was scheduled to start at 11 and got underway about 45 minutes later. The 2-plus mile open race was followed at 12:45 by a 4-plus mile elite race, a kids’ race and a relay event. Awards did not kick off until 5:30.

Transitioning – Battle of the Paddle style

And yet the late-morning, island-time mentality – which we’ve seen at other SUP races, too – seems to work for a sport that grew out of the Hawaii and California surf culture and the 125 or so racers and their guests didn’t seem to mind spending a full day (or weekend) around the Postcard Inn, especially with weather right out of a chamber of commerce video.

Webb and co-race director Grace Marcel again created a big-time race atmosphere, with a tent city of sponsors, an announcer’s booth and sound system perched atop scaffolding, 20-foot Pacifico beer inflatables, and a race format inspired by the Battle of the Paddle in California, which is to SUP what Ironman Kona is to triathlon.

On a weekend where the well-heeled Competitor Group debuted its TriRock triathlon amid little fanfare in Clearwater Beach, the Pacifico had perhaps the most big-time feel of any Tampa Bay endurance event. There was $5,000 in cash and prizes, numerous high-ticket raffle items, and the return of the best post-race spread of any endurance event we’ve attended: a pig roast.

SUP also has the best people-watching element of any endurance sport. Some believe SUP is the best workout ever created with its full-body, rotational movements and the way it challenges your balance, core and proprioception in a tough cardio workout. Exhibit A: the chiseled, jacked people you see at a SUP race.

Our friend Karen Mirlenbrink, an accomplished paddler and race director for the annual Shark Bite Challenge at Honeymoon Island, bowed out of the elite race after falling and cracking her board by landing on one side of her rear end. Talk about buns of steel. How many women can crack a board with their glutes? (Pretty good testimony for Karen’s business, Dunedin Pilates.) Unfortunately for me, Karen’s equally accomplished paddling husband decided to jump in the race in my stock board division and collect the $150 first-prize purse, which presumably goes toward Karen’s new board. (Second place received $50.)

Webb, the race director, spent a lot of time pre-race making sure everyone was familiar with the course, a technical, multi-buoy layout that required nine turns per lap — two laps for the open race, four for the elite. Such instructions seemed unnecessary since he provided a terrific pre-race video of the course, something we’d like to see triathlon and obstacle racing emulate.

We love the Battle-of-the-Paddle format, which requires racers to come to the beach after each lap, run 50 yards or so through a chute and then transition quickly back onto the board, which board caddies turn around and place into position. This is SUP’s answer to triathlon’s transition and perhaps gives a bit of advantage to those of us accustomed to the quick turnarounds of triathlon or obstacle racing.

Best post-race food anywhere

Last year I showed up for this event and won $75 by default as the only guy on a stock board — as opposed to a sleeker, faster race board — to complete the elite race. I wondered if prize money was necessary, especially since the $35,000 pot for the one-and-done U.S. Open of SUP in September of 2011 in Miami didn’t attract the crowds.

Last year, I only had to finish to collect cash. Lining up before the race, I could tell there were at least a half dozen guys on stock boards entered. When the horn sounded, two shot out well in front of me. I passed two others and settled into fourth. Early in the first lap, the guy in front of me fell on a buoy turn, giving me an opening to pass.

I spent the rest of the race holding him off. As we came to the beach for each transition, people cheered us on, producing a strange dynamic. As stock board racers, we were near the back of the pack. But as third-place contenders in our division, we still had a shot at money.

By the start of the fourth lap, my shoulders and back were barking. The surf was getting choppy and my opponent closer. On long straightaways, he took a lower path and soon I could see him out of the corner of my eye. If I fell, there was no way I’d regain my lead.

As we rounded the final buoy, he made one last push. All I had to do was get to shore first and run through the finish chute. I paddled as hard as I could to shore, leaped from the board, and chugged up the sand – winning by six seconds. Afterward, my new buddy — 38-year-old Bruce Jones – offered congratulations and mentioned that he quit smoking two years ago and only has been paddling since March. Clearly I have to step up my game.

Webb raised the entry fees of the race from a $45 pre-registration rate last year to $58 this year. That’s still an incredible value considering there were no online entry fees. Plus racers got to compete in a chip-timed event with tech T-shirts and a bonus four-person relay race. Then there was the pig roast and cash to the top three finishers in multiple divisions, including $700 apiece to the men’s and women’s elite winners.

Pacifico winnings

We can’t imagine Webb is making much money on these events. But he seems to be putting a long-term model in place to benefit as the sport grows — as opposed to obstacle races, many of which seem to be pushing the limits on how much they can charge and how little they can provide.

Heck, with multiple SUP races, a pig roast, and cash money involved, who can complain about a schedule that falls behind an hour? We’re guessing we’ll continue to see smaller SUP races spring up, traditional no-frills endurance events that start and finish early. But it’s hard not be bullish on the grander SUP race experience

It’s definitely worth building a weekend around.

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Weeki Wachee – SUP Paradise

By Pete Williams

Author Pete Williams, followed by Jerry Napp and Scott Bragan, paddles up the Weeki Wachee River

WEEKI WACHEE – Ten minutes after leaving the dock, we had gone back in time. Traveling up the twisting, turning Weeki Wachee River, battling a strong downward current on stand-up paddleboards, our view was not unlike that of the Seminole Indians who dubbed the river “Weeki Wachee” (windy river).

The river, relatively low this time of year, is rarely more than 50 feet wide and in most parts bracketed by hardwood canopies. The water alternates between green and teal and always clear enough to see the sandy bottom, to say nothing of turtles, countless fish, and the occasional manatee.

For most of our three-hour journey, between 8 and 11 a.m. on Wednesday morning, we see nobody. The few homes along the five-mile route are hidden far beyond the foliage. It’s a natural, tropical setting that seems like it belongs in the Caribbean or a South American rain forest rather than an hour northwest of downtown Tampa.

Scott Bragan (left) and Pete Williams stop for water

“Just look at this,” says Jerry Napp, our guide and the co-owner of Sup Weeki. “Places like this seem like the reason stand-up paddleboarding exists.”

Last year Napp and his wife Pam discovered both SUP and “the Weeki,” selling their longtime home in Tarpon Springs and moving a half hour north. While keeping their day jobs – he has worked in the fitness industry for more than 30 years – they launched Sup Weeki off the back dock of their new home.

Most Tampa Bay residents are familiar with Weeki Wachee Springs State Park, which since 1947 has featured a mermaid show, drawing tourists to the attraction at the corner of US 19 and State Road 50, just north of Spring Hill. Some check out the adjacent Buccaneer Bay water park with its pools and water slides. Others launch canoes and kayaks and float four-plus miles down the Weeki.

Underwater view of paddleboarding ‘The Weeki’

Napp, an avid runner and triathlete who I swam with for three years as part of a masters swim program, is happy to meet clients at the park and launch stand-up paddleboards headed downriver. SUP is still new enough that few have enjoyed that experience. But he figured endurance nuts like me would prefer to paddle upriver.

He was right, though I had second thoughts at first. After paddling a quarter-mile along a canal from Napp’s home past trailers and tear-downs that are being replaced by newer homes, we turned left into a tough current. It felt like one of those snorkel swim drills we used to do where we were tethered to a starting block and required to swim in place.

We were looking at two hours of this. I felt bad for Scott Bragan, 44, another avid triathlete who joined us for only his third stand-up paddling experience. But Scott was a natural and we quickly fell into a slow but steady rhythm heading upriver, spotting sheephead, trout and the occasional turtle while ducking the occasional hanging branch.

Jerry Napp embraces the challenge of swimming upriver

The winding river and frequent sandbars make it a technical course, adding to the degree of difficulty. I had never done any upriver distance paddling and found it helped, as in cycling, to fall in single file and take advantage of drafting.

Napp is the fittest 55-year-old on the planet, a Wisconsin native who looks at least a decade younger. Having spent his career in sales and training endurance athletes, he also has the gift of gab, along with a lengthy list of fitness certifications, including NASM (his current employer), and Brody Welte’s Paddle Fit.

All of which makes Napp a perfect SUP guide. As we maneuvered up the Weeki with our Quickblade paddles and 11-foot-6 NSP soft-top boards, Napp detailed the area’s rich history. We passed the tiered remnants of what was once an amphitheater for water shows. The narrow river, which at times requires some tricky maneuvering to avoid running the boards aground, is Coast Guard navigable. That means there can be small boat traffic, though thankfully none this day.

It takes us about two hours to reach the spring head adjacent to Buccaneer Bay. It’s a course Napp usually does alone since most of his customers, new to SUP, prefer either the downriver course or a much shorter upriver trip.

The ride home, of course, is much faster. We fly along at a conversational pace, with room to push harder. Napp casually mentions that he’d like to swim the five-mile course.

“I could maybe handle that with some training,” I said, figuring the many sandbars would provide breaks and I could float down the river when I got tired.

Then I realized Napp wanted to swim upriver.

We continued to pass the occasional rope swings dangling from trees. The water can be 15 feet deep or more at points. Unfortunately, the combination of rickety tree ladders and the disregard of the no-alcohol policy on the river has lead to injuries.

As we neared the end of the hour-long return trip, Napp apologized that it wasn’t manatee season. He and Pam spot them regularly off their dock in the winter. As if on cue, a young manatee appeared. Like dolphins, manatee seem fascinated by paddleboards, swimming underneath them.

By the time we reached Napp’s dock, our “workout” was three hours old. It dawned on me that it was probably my toughest board workout ever, though it sure didn’t seem that way.

No, it was just another enjoyable day on The Weeki.

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Taking it on the Chin

By Pete Williams

DUNEDIN – One of the many great things about stand-up paddleboarding is that you’re far less likely to get injured falling off a board than a bicycle. After all, water hurts a lot less than asphalt.

Of course, falling off a paddleboard can be very dangerous if you strike any part of your body on the board, especially your head. When you feel yourself going down, it’s important to push the board away from you and land totally in the water.

In my nearly two years of stand-up paddleboarding, I’ve managed to master the Buzz Lightyear “falling with style” technique. But while paddling yesterday at Honeymoon Island, I took it on the chin.

Not sure exactly how it happened. It probably wasn’t the best idea to launch into choppy surf in an area notorious for its rocky bottom that feels like walking on cobblestones. Taking a race board, with its lesser stability, also wasn’t one of my better decisions.

Remember: fall away from the board

I didn’t even fall off the board while standing.  When dealing with choppy seas – and we do get them here on the West Coast of Florida – the idea is to walk the board out beyond the break. But since the footing was so rocky, I jumped on in the prone position, with the paddle lying parallel on the board.

As I got to my knees, a wave flipped the board and I caught either the board or the handle of the paddle on the chin. Unlike the standing position, I couldn’t propel away from the board. Still, it didn’t feel that bad and I jumped back on only to see blood dripping onto the board.

I paddled back quickly to shore – thinking of how I participated in the “Shark Bite Challenge” SUP race in calmer waters near the same spot in April – grabbed an ice pack from the cooler, along with a towel, and walked to the lifeguard stand. They cleaned the cut and estimated I’d need three stitches.

Actually, five. The folks at the walk-in clinic asked if I’d had a tetanus shot recently and I proudly announced that I had, having gotten one two months ago after scraping myself up at an obstacle adventure race.

Not the greatest war story, to be sure. But another reminder that while stand-up paddleboarding can be a safe sport, it’s also one that requires proper safety precautions, including a personal flotation device in the event such a fall renders you unconscious.

As well as learning to fall gracefully.

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Shelby Chesnes, Playboy’s Miss July, on Fitness Buff Show

By Pete Williams

Shelby Chesnes, Playboy’s Miss July, is an avid fitness enthusiast. The Jupiter, Florida, native is into surfing and stand-up paddleboarding. Chesnes, 21, has been a SUP enthusiast for years, which makes her an old timer in the world of Florida paddleboarding.

Chesnes, an aspiring model who owns a mobile spray tanning business, joined us this morning on The Fitness Buff Show. You can listen to that interview HERE.

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NASCAR’s Edwards, Petty Try Paddleboarding

By Pete Williams

We love how NASCAR drivers are always looking to test their limits, as if piloting a race car more than 150 miles an hour around a track for five hours isn’t enough of a challenge.

Just hours after the finish of NASCAR’s Coke Zero 400 race in Daytona Beach on Saturday night, Jimmie Johnson and Kasey Kahne posted competitive times in a sprint triathlon in South Carolina.

Carl Edwards and Kyle Petty, meanwhile, tried their hand at stand-up paddleboarding. Our friends at YOLO board, the SUP manufacturer in Santa Rosa Beach, provided some custom boards wrapped to look like their race cars. Edwards and Petty took a spin around a lake adjacent to the Daytona International Speedway and looked pretty good for first timers.

You can see video of the one-lap race on NASCAR’s site here:

http://www.nascar.com/video/tnt/none/120707/cup-day2-tnt-paddleboard/index.html

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Race of the Week: Sweetwater Paddle for the Cure

By Pete Williams

Arnie Goodman almost called off his fourth-annual  “Sweetwater Paddle for the Cure,” which raises money for the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation.

Goodman, a Tampa physician who has been battling the disease for six years, has been undergoing another round of chemotherapy and figures he might not be able to appear at the event, which will go on as scheduled on Saturday (May 5) at 8:30 a.m. from Tampa’s Riverfront Park.

“I’ve been really sick, the disease is catching up with me,” said Goodman, 54. “But when I started talking about calling it off, my friends stepped up to make this happen and pull it together. I’m hoping to make an appearance.”

Multiple myeloma accounts for just 1 percent of cancer cases but has claimed the lives of a number of prominent Americans, including Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton, syndicated advice columnist Ann Landers, and former vice presidential candidate Geraldine Ferraro.

Goodman, who has undergone two stem cell transplants and spoke extensively with EnduranceSportsFlorida.com about his battle last year, has written extensively about the disease online. In 2009, he created the “Sweetwater Paddle for the Cure,” which began as a 5-mile kayak race and a 2-mile family fun paddle through downtown Tampa. That year, just one stand-up paddle boarder entered. Last year SUP enthusiasts outnumbered kayakers and Goodman says more than 200 total paddlers are expected this year between the two events.

In addition to the two paddles, there will be a benefit concert at The Lodge Restaurant and Bar in South Tampa the night before the race, May 4, from 5:30 to 8:30. Registration for the race is available online as well as the day of the event.

“I’ve been dealing with this disease for a number of year and thought I had it under control, but am hitting a bad spot right now,” Goodman said. “Once it became clear I probably wasn’t going to make it, every one of my friends said they’d step up and make it happen, and that’s pretty cool. I’m very grateful for the support.”

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