So what is the meaning of racing or competing (in any sport)?
What motivates you? I want to know what you all think.
The SUP river racing season is winding down. GoPro Games and FIBArk are arguably the peak races of the river season and now they are in the books! It was amazing to paddle and compete with people from all over the world at these events!
This would mark six weeks straight of racing every weekend for me, with more races on the radar. During the week I work at a paddleboard rental/retail shop as an instructor for lessons, kids camps, and rentals. That's a LOT of paddleboarding! And my body is feeling it...
My mind is feeling it too.
But when I put my mind to something, I do it. I love paddleboarding, so I do it as much as I can. It's an amazing community, a great way to get outside and stay in shape, and I love that I can choose to do it with people or do it alone.
Racing has benefited me in so many ways. It has given me the opportunity to see many beautiful places in Colorado and the rest of the world that I wouldn't have otherwise visited. I have met so many cool people along the way, and racing has forced my paddleboarding to improve immensely. Instead of just jumping on a board and bombing a rapid, hoping that my previous vaulting and rafting skills help me to balance, it has taught me to think more about the relationship between the currents, the edges of my board, the fins, and my paddle strokes. This will help me to come closer to my goal of becoming a solid class IV paddleboarder.
I also feel good knowing that participating in whitewater SUP races helps promote the whitewater SUP community and builds the sport. I know that almost everyone that does this sport wants to see it grow, including myself. It's awesome to see that race organizers know and understand the vision of the spectator-friendly SUP Cross and Surf events done at well-known river festivals.
Racing can be intimidating and a lot of work. I had a hard time being motivated this year for personal reasons. I drove to each location and hermitted in my van and contemplated the meaning and the financial burden of it all before grabbing anything made out of chocolate (Nutella or mochas are the go-to) and racing anyway. I always felt better once I hit the water. Rivers are therapeutic like that. And so is chocolate.
I also realize that I did the same thing when I was a competitive equestrian vaulter, which is an even more niche sport. I loved training and preparing for competitions, traveling with my team, and exploring new areas, but over time I lost the motivation. When I competed I asked myself, "Why am I here?" I justified not competing in vaulting on the fact that I was spending hundreds of dollars to win a ribbon for a sport that hardly anyone knows exists. Performing vaulting as entertainment at events versus paying to compete meant that our team was making money by the end of it and people were discovering the sport. I was never stressed when I was performing in front of thousands of people, but I was always stressed competing in front of two judges and a handful of parents.
So it could just be my personality. I've always been more stoked on being a performer than a competitor.
But here's the catch. Even though I said all those things about competing, I still sign up for vaulting competitions and SUP races.
It's because competing for me is Type II Fun. Which means I'm complaining now while I'm dragging my sore, broken body day to day, race to race, hoping that I'll win enough money to pay for my trip and maybe upgrade my river gear... but by next year I'm not going to remember that. I'm going to remember the rewards. The friends. The experiences. And the accomplishments through being a competitor.
So what is the meaning of racing or competing (in any sport)? What motivates you? I want to know what you all think!