So what is “SUP?” Well, stand up paddling involves standing on what is effectively a very large, high-volume surfboard and moving forward using a single bladed paddle. It’s the ultimate full-body workout; your legs are working hard to create a base of support for your core to stabilize your body, while you perform powerful upper body movements to pull the paddle through the water. At first, the urge to over-correct every “wobble” can get the better of you. But after a bit of practice on a wide, stable board over some nice calm water, you’ll begin to get the muscle memory required to effectively paddle forward on the board.
How I started stand up paddling
I did a fair bit of stand up paddleboarding on the southwest coast this summer and clocked some good training sessions on the River Wye, but I was yet to try out any SUP racing. I’d also dabbled with the idea of entering a couple of regular triathlons but there were a few problems, I’m not the biggest fan of road biking, neither am I that fond of road running, and as much as I love swimming, the idea of spending hours looking at the bottom of a pool putting in training time bored me before I even got wet. So, since I wasn’t that interested in typical triathlon events, that idea slowly drifted away. But then, when the guys at Surf Dome launched the new #supbikerun race, I checked the calendar, prayed that I was free and boom, I was booked.
My first SUP triathlon
After setting off in the first wave I quickly learned that efficient, tight turns would make a big difference on my SUP section time. All that SUP surfing during the summer was starting to pay dividends! After holding the front for the first leg of the stand-up paddleboarding course, I focused everything on performing a fast, tight turn and then dug deep for the second straight. Most of the races I’ve done can sometimes be a bit lonely. It’s generally just me in the hills, forests or bike tracks racing against the clock. With this event though, I took a moment to glance up to the finish slip and was greeted by the site of a big crowd up on the watersports deck, cheering with cameras at the ready. This, allow with a speed boat providing safety and blasting out motivational music, made it one of the best atmospheres I’d experienced at an event. So with psych levels high, I dug deep finished the stand up paddling leg, ditched the board, and headed for the first transition.
Getting through the other triathlon events
As excited as I was about the stand up paddle portion of the race, I had two more events to get through before I was done. Mountain biking, as much as I love it, is probably my weakest activity out of the three. When I’m training, I always seem to have this knack for getting drawn toward the downhill forest trails to ‘have fun’ rather than heading out onto big hills and tough trails to put in some hard work. On the plus side though, this meant that I had the advantage on the downhill, so I was able to regain any time lost on the uphill sections. After 30K of some beautiful Southern trails and 3 challenging climbs I racked up the bike, chucked on my Merrell trail running shoes and tried my hardest to fight jelly legs on the run leg! The finish line greeted me with ice cold water and a carton of Vita Coco Coconut Water drink (everyone loves a freebee!). This was the first #supbikerun in the UK and is apparently going to be a series, so I can’t wait to hear when the next one is going to be, and most importantly where!