7/23/2022 Scott Orlando Blazing Paddles Kayak Race Cleveland, Ohio


Blazing Paddles Paddlefest

Cleveland, Ohio

6.8 Mile Kayak Race

Fast Sea Kayak Class

Scott Orlando

Finish Time:  1:08:49

Overall Place:  9th Place

Division Place:  3rd Place In The Fast Sea Kayak Class

Race Recap By Scott Orlando

This was my second time participating in the Blazing Paddles Paddlefest.   The Paddlefest featured a 14.2 mile race, 6.8 mile race, 3.2 mile race, plus 3 and 5 mile races for paddleboards.   A recreational float was also offered for non competitive paddlers.   This year’s event sold out with 100 paddlers in the competitive races and over 500 in the recreational float.   I competed in the fast sea kayak class of the 6.8 mile race.   The new course configuration added a section heading North a half mile rounding a buoy then heading south back past the start line.  I was a little skeptical of the new course knowing that 500 recreational paddlers would be released on the river after the start of the competitive races.  Thy smartly held back the start of the recreational paddlers until the competitive racers rounded the buoy and passed the start point heading South.  This made for a huge crowd and a lot of energy as we crossed back past the start area.   The river was calm with few waves and there wasn’t much current.  It did rain off and on during the race but it was light and not a factor.   I wasn’t sure where I was in the in the positioning until we hit the South 4 mile turnaround buoy.  From there I could count the kayaks ahead of me that made the turn.  Several kayaks ahead of me continued on the 14.2 mile course which did not turn.   I realized I was in 3rd place in my class an in contention of getting on the podium.  This gave me some motivation and energy to push hard through the up river section to the finish.  I could see the 2nd place kayak in my division just ahead of me.   I was able to make up some ground but not enough to catch him and finished just 30 seconds behind with a finish time of 1:08:49 which put me 9th overall and 3rd in my class.   The event was well organized by Share The River and North Coast Multisports.   This was the largest paddle event I have ever attended.  I have never seen so many paddlers in the water at one time which was an amazing site.   The course was really fun passing so many downtown Cleveland Iconic landmarks including the Terminal Tower, the casino, Progressive Field, The Guardians on the bridge,  the historic fire fighting barge that helped put out the historic river fire that the race is named after, and of course the spot of the river fire.  The fire fighting barge had all of its water cannons blasting creating an arch that we paddled under which was pretty awesome.   All participants received nice t-shirts and a sticker.  Winners received race themed hats and a print of the downtown river area.   It was great to see so many of my kayak friends from Performance Kayak and other teams that I often race against.   This was no doubt one of the largest paddling events in Ohio and I expect it to only get bigger next year.   If you are a competitive or recreational paddler put this event on your calendar for next year!