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Raider Conquers Latvia - 310km Non-Stop Kayak Ultramarathon in 31 hours, 58 minutes (w/ SD Footbraces)

The Gauja XXL Marathon is one of the most spectacular kayaking races all over the world (exactly the longest European competition of that kind). It requires from the paddler parmanent effort on the distance of 310 km. This event gives the opportunity to admire the longest river of Latvia - Gauja. Starting in Lejasciems (near border with Estonia) participants cross nearly half of Latvia finishing at the Gulf of Riga. Nature is more than friendly in here. Untouched by civilization, full of charming river branches, away from the crowded areas - one can find here everything what is searched by the demanding tourist.

Kayaking wanderers would be surprised at the beginning by rapids which appear just from the meander, not very dangerous but exciting and waking up from the deep thoughts of the surrounding. River changes it face afterwards and take us into picturesque valley. Single rocks and cliffs make the man small on this natural background. Gauja calm down then and run through the virgin forest. Richness of fauna and flora couldn't leave anyone neutral. All mentioned aspects of beauty might be visible only from the river side. The last but not least land scenery view is cut off rapidly by the sea space opening widely for the paddler's eyes.

How the race look like ? There are several classes starting with K1 which is most popular and finishing with BOAT which is described as any human muscle powered water craft. Competitors are obligated to have minimum equipment: life jacket, mobile phone, drink and food, lights, knife, cord, tools for firing a fire, gas burner, pot,, sleeping bag, tent or sleeping mat, first aid kit, spare clothing. They take responsibility for their own safety during the race. There are two checkpoints where participants are supplied with drinking water and get a hot meal. Breaks are obligatory in here and one should stay at the place for 30 minutes which are excluded from the race running time.

The start line was crossed at 7 P.M. 13th of May 2011. Kazimierz RabiƄski who is the designer of Kayman Kayaks company was on the top from very beginning of the race. His average speed during this first part was quite high 9,5 km/h. Next parts were fast enough to reach final time 31 hours 58 minutes. Last year K-1 record has been beaten for 1 hour 32 minutes. Raider - boat designed by Kazimierz (which also uses the SEA-LECT Designs Adjustable Footbrace) and his never ending energy made it happen. Advantage of the boat reflected to the result so sentence "designer would reach success only if his work come from the bottom of his heart" was confirmed in real.

This short summary doesn't give the view on the weather conditions which were faced by the competitors. The race has been finished only by six participants. The storm greeted them with heavy rain making wall of the water just at the beginning. Thunders accompanied competitors for the first hour of the race. Rain remained and followed kayak's track till 7 A.M. next day. Everyone thought it would be much easier during the day and the following night. Unfortunately fog and minus temperature changed their optimism into permanent fight against their weakness. Tiredness and unknown river wouldn't help in passing next kilometers. River, which would be adored during the usual kayaking trip by its branches, sandbanks, hundreds of islands, made competitors life hard. Navigation on the river in the dark and foggy weather when one has passed more than 250 km in permanent paddle is extraordinary challenge.

Finish line was welcomed as a gift from the heaven. Everyone who won with himself and reached the destination would at last fall asleep. Enthusiasm had no chance with the total exhaustion. The old truth that limits are more in our minds than in our bodies has been proofed once again.

* story provided to SEA-LECT Designs by Alek Sliwka of Kayman Kayaks