swimming in April

The fourth Võhandu marathon. Based on the rather pleasant experience from last year i didn’t take much thinking from me and also from Silver to participate again and so we were among the first teams to register. That didn’t save us from that first setback – waiting to book a boat or actually a canoe about two weeks before the race – not likely to happen. Finally got one from Otepää, from a very-very-very talkative guy. the location caused us some unnecessary logistical problems, but nothing a little among of gasoline couldn’t resolve. No test run this year ’cause you gotta be realistic – an hour wont do much difference if you basically get into the boat once a year for only this event.
The weather wasn’t promising. In fact i drove past the lake the evening before and it was covered with ice. It melted for the morning though. during the first two hours we got everything except thunderstorm and a twister. sunshine, hail, sleet, headwinds – you name it.
As usual the first 20km are a drag – slow and boring. Also we found out that our boat has a leak in the nose so pretty soon i had cold and wet feet. we also had a bizarre idea to switch place – regular would be me sitting in the back and Silver in front. Let me tell you – after the switch it was as goofy as it can be. I’ve probably never felt so unbalanced and uncomfortable in my life – it just wasn’t right and Silver felt the same.
So there wasn’t much happening during the first 30 km. After Paidra the current picked up the pace and it got more interesting. Like last year the constant bends where you have to slow down and the accelerate weren’t much fun, but we knew that already and didn’t think much about it. One team in a canoe went overboard right in front of us so quickly that i even didn’t see it happen. Then we reached Leevi
After the dam in Leevi the current is much faster and there are many old watermills on the river with old dams that create potential spots for mid-spring swimming lesson. The first spot is a 90 degree turn to the left. It has trees reaching as far as 1/3 of the river width so you have to make a big arc around it. The problem is that there are branches on the other side also and a steep sandstone wall on the outer bank. So if you take a really big acr you might get slammed into the wall and the arc is too small you’ll get stuck into the trees on your left with your nose and the current will drag your boat god-knows into what. That all didn’t happen to us. Instead we hit the branches on the left and although i’m packig a solid 95kg the branch was stronger and we were in the very cold, very wet water fighting with the current and trying to hold on to our boar which very quickly filled with water. I don’t know how long were in the water – maybe a few minutes. Silver didn’t have his bag secured to him so it went downstream and he had to run for the rescue while i was holding on the canoe – both safely on the shore though. We got the boat out and after a lot of swearing and dirty words we considered continuing, but discovered that the boat had suffered damage serious enough to make it impossible to go on. Fortunately we got help with the boat and delivered it back to it’s owner. It took considerably more time for the dry clothes to arrive – fortunately i had my fleece packed waterproof so i didn’t have to wear those wet ones for 2 hours when we waited for the pickup.
Meanwhile witnessed an accident when a raft crashed into a metal construction and teared a hole into its side. Owner wasn’t very happy.
It’s a shame that we couldn’t end the race in the finish, but there’s always next year.
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