Making a kayaking event happen with the current problems in the world is no easy feat, the organisers of the King of the Alps pulled of the seemingly impossible this past weekend with an incredible event with Covid safety measures and testing included.
Held on the Passer river in Merano, Italy. This competition sets itself apart by combining events for all skill levels through a range of different disciplines. From a rolling competition in a swimming pool, to a class three marathon race open to all water crafts, including OC1 and packrafting, and hosting the European Championships in the form of a class 5 race down the ‘Intimidator’ rapid.
For a person that self admittedly doesn’t really enjoy competing, I have to admit. This event is bloody cool!
The main race for myself is the finals down the Intimidator rapid but in order to be able to compete on that race course, you first have to qualify by placing in the top thirty in the marathon race. A thirty minute race down a class three section of river with around a hundred kayakers competing. It is bedlam, absolute bedlam. Paddling hard down this style of water for that amount of time is not something that I have ever really practiced. I remember being shocked when I was at this event a few years ago with how hard some people where able to go throughout this race, including Palm’s Eddy Mead who placed well in this stage of the event a few years ago. I personally wanted to quit or throw up at least twenty-seven times throughout this race but I managed to hold on and qualify in twelfth place and make it into the finals.
The finals race course starts with a big boof of the top drop into some technical boulder gardens, down a slide and then into the intimidator rapid. That final rapid is tricky and very aptly named, coming into this thing tired and out of breath in the race is down right intimidating.
My goal as a kayaker is to simply be the best kayaker that I can be and to try and be creative on the water, competition placings mean little to me because the only person I am competing with is myself. This mindset is wonderfully freeing and while it doesn’t have me motivated to do specific race training, I do spend a lot of time on the water and I like to try hard at everything I do. This left me with a lap in the finals that I am almost happy with, a few small mistakes stop me from being completely satisfied but I was happy to push hard throughout my run and feel in control and confident down the race course. It also left me in fifth place in the Euro Champs, if you’re into this sort of thing.
Mostly the thing I like to do most in kayaking is push myself on challenging rapids with my friends and thats exactly what I got to do this weekend. Cheers and a massive thanks to everyone that makes this event happen and thoroughly looking forward to next year when hopefully more of team Palm / British kayakers will be allowed to travel over for the event.
Catch you on the water, Bren