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June 6th 2022 Muskegon Michigan – The day started well enough, it was warm, it was sunny. The aerial acrobatics team from the nearby airport made a fly-by in formation.

77 people registered, almost 60 of them lined-up for a combined 5k and 10k beach start. Someone yelled go, and there was fury in the water. Paddles and bodies splashed. Smiles stretched across faces as the group paddled in perfect unison towards the first buoy. And as the leaders made that first left, they found themselves staring into a wall of fog. The wind picked up, the temperature dropped, and visibility was cut to just a few hundred yards. Luckily one of the safety boats, supplied by the local sheriff’s office, had flashing lights to mark the direction of the far buoy.

Not to be dissuaded, the field paddled on. Continuing the best trend since Billy Elish, I counted 13 first time competitors.  They battled for pride, sense of accomplishment and for the rare few at the front, a cash purse! That’s right, $300 for 10K class winners, $150 for 5k, along with a super cool custom made wooden paddle from Little Bay Boards.

The 5k entrants outnumbered the 10k by a factor of three and where the first across the line. Cameron Carney came all the way from Canada to claim top honors with a respectable sub 38-minute time for the conditions. Doug Vojtko followed up his win the week prior with another podium finish, and Michael Weidman from Kentucky just edged out series regular Adam Rivera for the last podium spot. Less than a minute separated 2nd through 5th.

Risa Starkopf and Jessi Lynn swapped places from the prior week’s races with Risa coming out on top. Ryan Meade continued her Podium streak taking third.

In the seated crafts, Mark Dorner finished first in 5k, with Kurt Kling and Robert Downs rounding out the podium for the men. Lisa Walinske bested Rea Slahck in the women’s division.

In the 10k Women’s Kattie Carpenter continued her winning ways, but this time Kathy Mcrae was the one pushing her from second place. Daniel Novak looks unbeatable and has yet to face a serious challenge in the Men’s 14k.  this week was no exception in a carbon copy of last weeks podium with Dan on top flanked by Alex Sandler and Jay James. Fast guy Javier Diaz is registered for next weeks 45 North race, and will look to shake up the front of the pack.

In the seated 10k, Robert Hartman made his presence felt after being absent at the first race. He made a statement beating last’s weeks winner Pieter Visser by over 3 minutes. William Bellinger was right on Pieter’s tail finishing just a few seconds behind.

Ryan Bryker commented: "We are so thankful for all the racers, spectators, sponsors, volunteers, amazing family and friends for being a part of our growing and caring paddle community.  Above all else though, I (Ryan Bryker) am infinitely thankful for my angel of a wife, Katie Bryker.  Without her, the wheels on this bus would fly off!"

Full results can be found here.

Extensive gallery of photos are here.

And the rest of the Midwest Paddle League Schedule is here.

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