Syttende Mai and The Portage

Last night was the Syttende Mai Canoe Race. It’s a short 3.5 mile race into Stoughton with one little portage. That tiny little around a bridge and back into the water portage is by far the most interesting (and in my view completely horrible) part of the entire race!

Before we get into that here are some other facts you might want to know.

-My mom and John have never raced together before.
-Tyler and I have never raced together before.
-John and my Mom were in one boat.
-Tyler and I were in another.
-Tyler has never raced in a canoe before.
-We all paddled together once last Sunday, to teach him how.
-Mom sat with some lead shot in her end of the boat in attempt to trim it out.
-The start is a mass start, first come, first served on good starting spots.
-Always worried we’ll get there too late, we outdid ourselves this year with an hour long sit in our chosen good spot.
-The spot was a good one, we were all out in the first pack by the time we got to the first bridge and the river narrowed.
-Tyler and I spun out a boat of guys and sent them into the bushes.
-I maintain that I was going straight and that they got a bit sideways.
-We beat them.
-Tyler had a bit of technical I-don’t-really-know-what-I’m-doing-what-did-I-get-myself-into-I’m-not-paddling-quite-right-and-it’s-breaking-my-back problems just after that.
-While that was going on I had a bit of I-can’t-keep-us-in-time-when-you-can’t-decide-how-to-paddle-is-he-going-to-hate-me-at-the-finish problems.
-Those thoughts entered my head when I asked how he was doing and he said “Tired!”
-We were only half way at that point.
-Lily pads have great renewing powers for my brother.
-Out of the lily pads and on our way into town we hit our stride and caught back up to the pack in front.

Then came the portage.

All you have to do is jump out of your boat, pick it up, run around a bridge, put your boat back in the water, jump in, and keep paddling in a quick sprint to the finish.

Our portage:

We hit the shore, getting in the way of another boat that wasn’t exiting the water very fast. As planned Tyler hopped out grabbed the canoe and started running with it. I had hopped out and watched Tyler and the canoe run away from me. I’m certain I was running, but I was having a REALLY hard time catching him. I think it was only fear of my boat being dragged across the road that got my legs to sprint enough to catch him and pick the boat up. I managed to hang onto my end of it until just before we got into the water. The bank at that point is pretty steep, Tyler threw his end in and started getting in. No doubt he was assuming that I was doing something with my end. But I wasn’t, I was trying to catch up again. Somehow I got into the boat just as Tyler almost tipped it, (not totally his fault note, the part where I was doing nothing with my end) managed to help him get his paddle which was starting to fall into the river and we were off… the next bridge we went under a little boy said “WOW look at all the water in their canoe!” Fortunately after sucking air and wondering how on earth we could possible paddle after running, we stayed in our groove, had a great sprint to the finish, and held off the boats around us. We Sloshed all that water in our boat down the river for an 8th place finish overall and third in the mixed. Not bad for Tyler’s first race and our first race together!

John and my Mom’s portage:

They hit the bank and jumped out. My mom claims that John forgot the plan was that he was supposed to pick the boat up and run with it and she had to yell at him to get it as it continued to float down the shore without them. John says, he was “just getting my footing”. Whatever the holdup, the canoe was snagged and John took off running. My Mom also had a bit of a time catching her canoe and managed to catch it just before the road as well. The difference is she dropped it when she reached the other side. This is reported to have earned her a very dirty look from John. She claims he was pulling her and figured just dragging the canoe would be easier for him. John has no comment. They had a nice smooth entry and a great sprint to the finish in their attempt to catch the first place mixed boat. They couldn’t quite do it, but were sixth over all and second in the mixed.

We met up with our cheering section of Grandpa’s cousin George and wife Lois, Katie (the best short notice, Help I forgot I have children that need watching! Want to watch a canoe race? friend around) Ivy and Clara. We all celebrated by eating, hot dogs, jumbo hot dogs, brats, pulled pork sandwiches, corn on the cob, strawberry shortcake, fried cheese curds, lefsa, cotton candy and a walking taco. Did I mention there is a whole Syttende Mai festival in Stoughton? Did I mention all the food stands? Did I mention that it might be the best part of the race?

Today we’ll hang up our plaques we won, in the house!

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2 comments on “Syttende Mai and The Portage

  1. Jenny Vater says:

    This one made me laugh so hard I was crying and almost peeing my pants! Thank you!

  2. […] Spring is coming and I need muscles to do fun things like paddle,  move sheep and hang laundry on the […]

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