So my cousin picked me up straight from school on thursday may 1 and we rushed out to the Cheat. We got there around 6:45 and I was very tempted to put on, but I decided against it. The next morning I took a practice run and felt very smooth. I had paddled the Cheat once since the 08 race and I was a little worried about hitting the lines well.
In 2006 I finished 20th, in 2007 I finished 7th, in 08 I finish second. I was defiantly hoping to continue this trend with a first place finish in 09. I lined up focusing on my lines and getting a great start. The Cheat Race start really is an amazing sight. Watching roughly 150 paddlers line up and charge towards the first rapid is very cool. Paddle stokes off boats and chests aren't uncommon. I think there was the first year I heard both the countdown and the airhorn for the start. I managed to land myself immediately in first, and I stayed this way until the top of Big Nasty where Andrew passed me. In Big Nasty my lines started to fall apart. I was too far right and then too far left. Andrew started pulling further and further a head. I was sloppy at both Coliseum and High Falls. I managed to take a very bad stern hit below Pete Morgan as well. I think Geoff passed me a little ways above Tear Drop but I'm not entirely sure. I remember thinking I could pass him until the last stretch.
I was definitely disappointed and frustrated after the race. After a year of hard training I was bummed to finished 3rd. I'm proud to say I still had a strong finish and that Little Falls Wildwater Club cleaned up in the team race. We finished 1st,2nd, 3rd, and 4th in the Pro Class, and won the regular class as well. LFWC was in full force. Looking back on the race, I realize that bad lines happen and endurance is something that takes years to build up. Andrew and Geoff both raced very well and I can't wait for the next Cheat Race.
This past weekend I raced in the Bloomington MAD series race. I was very happy after this to finish first and to beat Andrew. I dropped 6 seconds since my sprint last year and 8 on my classic.
All photos by Michael Thompson