Updated: Jul 30, 2019
Us marathon canoers all know the feeling too well. The long winters and being trapped inside as the wind blows and snow falls. The depression hits hard when we get out of work or school, and the sun has already set. How long will this last?! I just want to paddle my canoe without freezing to death! The weeks and months drag on.
To those who have not made the trip to the annual Florida training camp, it is a very effective therapy to this very real problem. Each year in early march, different groups of canoeists being to migrate south. For a week, caravans of vehicles and boats take to the rivers of north Florida to soak up the sun and sights, looking for alligators, turtles, monkeys and manatees. Some very lucky individuals spend longer than a week, and become full fledged Floridians during the winter months. At camp paddlers assess their fitness level, hoping that all the winter skiing, running and lifting have paid off a little. It is at camp when many people start to network, find potential partners and see who's who and what's what. This year there was a surprise participant, Serge Corbin. Serge has been training hard, partnering with Normand Mainguy for several weeks in Florida. Both are in shape and have the hours in, maybe we will see more of them this year?
Everyone has a different goal, but everyone hopes to leave the sunshine state a little leaner, fitter and tanner. The large packs of boats are perfect for learning how to ride a wave, and to shake the winter rust off the technique and skills. At camp you get the chance to paddle with people possessing a huge variety of skill and talent, from the beginner paddler to someone like Serge Corbin and Steve Lajoie. Some of the rivers, like the weeki wachee, are very technical and twisty. Throw in a half dozen boats and chaos ensues! It is a race before a race, with a more relaxed atmosphere conducive to learning. If you are ambitious and hungry to become a better paddler, there is nowhere better than Florida in early march.
With camp now in the rearview mirror, the first race of the season is just a few weeks away. Train hard and make gains!