Paddlers push limits in Ten Mile One Mile race |

Paddlers push limits in Ten Mile One Mile race

Summit Daily/Mark Fox

FRISCO – Standing on a small dock in the Frisco Marina, Ken Hoeve held his paddle above his head, yelling – or, rather, taunting – back out to the swarm of boaters chasing him to the finish line of the Ten Mile One Mile kayak race.

He had a substantial lead, and crossing the finish meant more to him than simply picking up the win.

In his first race since “blowing out” his shoulder last summer – and only his second run in a kayak at all – Hoeve was just happy to be back doing what he loved.

“I don’t mean the cockiness,” he said, referring to the end-of-race taunts. “It just feels great. … Really, I’ve been kind of afraid to get back in my kayak, but doing it now, is just awesome.”

And wrapping up the victory – by a wide margin – in the creek-boat division wasn’t too bad either.

Hoeve was one of three winners in the annual race held on Sunday.

The down-creek competition was part of the two-day kayak event put on by Matti Wade of the Frisco boating shop Ten Mile Creek Kayaks. Despite some snow and rain, 10 paddlers took part in a “best-trick” competition Saturday night. Before Sunday’s race was the kayak rodeo.

Wade, who resurrected the event in 2008, said Sunday’s field for the race was the biggest in three years he’s run it, despite what he said was the event’s worst weather.

Storm clouds swirled above the Tenmile Range before the start of the race, but the inclement weather held off as the paddlers pushed into the water.

With three divisions (creek boat, play boat and women’s open), the competition began just across Main Street from Wade’s shop in the Frisco playhole.

Racers sprinted in a Le Man’s start to their boats, which rested atop the bank of the creek. They slapped on their spray skirts, pushed down the bank and jostled back and forth all they way to the reservoir. Once on flat water, the paddlers pushed to a dock in the marina, got out of their boats and sprinted – carrying their boats and paddles – across the finish line.

Although the finish, with the frantic de-boating, may be the most entertaining section of the race for spectators, most paddlers agreed the start was more crucial to winning.

Yet there were certainly different theories of what made for a good start.

Hoeve said it was a thoughtful process for him. He positioned his boat just right, took his time strapping in and put more emphasis on being the most prepared paddler to hit the water rather than just being the quickest.

Summit Cove’s Chris Fletcher kept it a bit more simple.

“I just jumped in and went as fast as I could,” he said with a laugh.

And that strategy seemed to work perfectly, as Fletcher led from start to finish to take the title in the play-boat division.

“It went great, a lot of fun, and everyone that competed put their heart into it,” he said. “I got third last year, so I was happy to get first this year.”

He was also happy to get that final stretch in the reservoir done with. In a play boat (shorter than 6-feet long), paddling through flat water can be more difficult than in the 9-foot creek boats.

“Oh, it slows you down so much. It’s tough,” Fletcher said.

In the women’s division, all three competitors used the smaller boats, and it was the reservoir stretch that proved to be the difference.

Trailing the entire way down the creek, Laura Karden of Silverthorne took control of the race in the final 100 meters, passing Frisco’s Kim Nearpass in the process.

“Kim’s a good friend of mine, and I thought she’d beat me,” Karden said. “She was the pace-setter the whole way.”

“I was in the lead until we got to the (reservoir),” Nearpass said. “It was so fun. I didn’t even think about winning at all.”

And for Hoeve, it wasn’t so much the winning part of Sunday’s race that led to his post-win exuberance.

“I love this event. (Wade) does a great job, does a lot of work and probably doesn’t get much thanks,” Hoeve said. “It’s a great way to spend a Sunday; I can’t think of anything better.”

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