A small band of UK paddlers were out in Germany at this year’s Lost Mills event at the weekend. With soaring temperatures the already infamous race just got a whole lot tougher. On the ground were Pete Holliday, Ryan James, Aaron Rowe, Charlie Grey and Jo Hamilton-Vale who gives us her take on how things went down.
The first thing that hit all the GB paddlers when we arrived in Bavaria was the heat. Surely Germany should not be this warm?
The Lost Mills is known as one of the toughest races due to the 18km distance, flat water with no flow or swell to assist you. This race is based on sheer power. Add to this 32 degrees heat, no cloud cover and high humidity and what we had was one brutal race.
The race was brought forward three hours due to a thunder storm which was forecast. The first start was the male category – 91 guys all on one start line. This caused mayhem on the water, a few swimmers and lots of draft trains linking up immediately. The female start was much easier.
We had 3km on the small lake before portaging up an incline and round the corner to a beach on the next lake. On the big pond we had a 6.5km crossing to the other side, which seemed never ending. At the half way point I was slowing and needed to put a sprint in. I took a drink, hammered it for a minute and then it all went wrong. I was really sick and disoriented with the heat – back to slow steady paddling then! I really wanted to pull out of the race but realised that if I did I would still have to paddle back to the finish line, so best thing to do was keep going.
I got to the final portage and had to stop for a minute, no way could I run with the board. Back onto the small lake and it was only 3km to the finish. I couldn’t wait!
It was great to see Aaron Rowe, Ryan James, Pete Holliday, Crispin Jones and Charlie Grey waiting at the finish line with water and BEER for me. The beer was going to be a step to far for at that moment as I just needed to recover.
The heat effected everyone – even the Hawaiians, Australians and Americans were saying how draining it was.
The most memorable thing about Lost Mills is how paddlers act like one big happy family – from the world’s best to weekend warriors, we’re all in it together. What other sport would you spend time after the race with the best racers in the world drinking, eating and chatting?
Every one of the GB paddlers did an amazing job in brutal conditions. We all worked hard, supported each other and showed this elite race what a great bunch of people we have paddling these cold waters. I therefore have to say: ‘Great job guys, I know we all felt pain at the end of the race but we were there together and the smiles we all had on our faces on Saturday evening showed it was well worth it.’
We’ll be back…
Pics: CG Custom Paddleboards