2 Dam Days International Flat-water Championship: extreme competition and big money

Click here for the full LakeExpo article:

The Fifth Annual 2 Dam Days International Flat-water Championship Paddle Marathon on Saturday, Oct. 4 and Sunday, Oct. 5 promises to be one exciting race, attracting extreme contenders from across the world.

The main event is the 2 Dam Days Unlimited, a 82.4-mile kayak marathon across the waters of the Lake of the Ozarks, over two days, from Last Resort Campground in Warsaw near the Truman Dam to Beavers at the Dam at Bagnell Dam in Lake Ozark.

Some of the toughest paddlers in the kayak racing circuit will compete in an event that is hailed as “hardest and most extreme” endurance kayak race in North America. The flat and often choppy Lake of the Ozarks waters will test the mental and physical strength of competitors. “Most paddlers are accustomed to endurance racing “with” the current, not like this, fighting wind-waves and huge boat wakes,” said three-time 2 Dam Days competitor Joe Baisa. “This is a hard race!”

One of the biggest payouts in the sport

The 2 Dam Days races have one of the highest guaranteed purses in the sport of paddling, with $13,900 in prize money, if all divisions are filled. This is also the highest payout for women kayak racers. The boat finishing the two-day race with the best over-all time will be awarded an additional $500. If a paddler beats Olympic paddler Mike Herbert's record average speed of 7.47 miles per hour they will win an extra $1,500. If this record is not broken in 2014, the pay-out will be increased by $500 per year until the record is broken.

Olympic paddlers

Olympic paddler Mike Herbert, a paddling legend, from Rogers, Ark., will compete in the Extreme 90 race. Herbert took first place in the 2010 and 2011 2 Dam Days International Flat-water Championship Paddle Marathon. Herbert was unable to compete in 2012 due to a chain saw injury. Neil Fleming, an Olympic champion from Ireland, competed in 2012 and took the first place trophy and best overall time. Herbert came back in 2013 and once again took first place and best overall time.

Best overall times:

2010: 11 hours 54 minutes set by Mike Herbert
2011: 12 hours 31 minutes set by the tandem team of Tommy Yonley and Mark Addison
2012: 12 hours 35 minutes set by Neil Fleming
2013: 12 hours 10 minutes set by Mike Herbert
It should be noted that the race in 2014 will be somewhat shorter than previous years, 82.4 miles versus 90 miles, and the record time to beat will therefore be adjusted proportionally to the race differences.

Women too

Several tough female contenders have registered to compete in the gristly Extreme 2 Dam Days Unlimited and Limited, including  Nancy Bowers, Traci Martin and Susan Tretter. There is a special bonus for the top finishing female in the solo division and for the top finishing females in the tandem division.   

Extreme 90 racer Jim Short is paddling for the third time in the 2 Dam Days races and he said, “The Lake of the Ozarks is a beautiful lake - in a beautiful area - in the middle of the good old USA, If anyone is looking for a tough race, with lots of amenities and some pay out to boot, this is a diamond in the rough. As this race progresses and evolves, I look for it to become a premiere site for some of the best racing in Mid-America.”

Four paddle races

There are four paddles scheduled over the weekend: The Extreme 2 Dam Days Unlimited for any size boat with a guaranteed payout, the Extreme 2 Dam Days Limited for boats 18 ft. and under, the Sweet 16 and the Anything Goes paddle.

The Extreme races start at the Last Resort Campground in Warsaw and end at 34 mile marker at Captain Ron’s in Sunrise Beach on Day 1. The second day the race starts at Captain Ron’s and travels 34.5 miles to the Beavers at the Dam at Bagnell Dam in Lake Ozark. 

The Sweet Sixteen sprint

The Sweet Sixteen is a 15.5 mile race from Red Fox to Captain Ron’s. This race’s roster has tripled over 2012, notably adding several strong women competitors.

Anything Goes sprint

In the Anything Goes sprint contestants will paddle 3.5 miles from the Bear Bottom Resort to Captain Ron’s Bar and Grill. In this zany race you may paddle anything that floats as long as it doesn’t have a motor, all in the spirit of fun! This is not an endurance race but there will be judged awards for the fastest, most humorous, the most creative, the youngest and the oldest.

Awards and dinner

There will be an awards ceremony and dinner at 4 p.m. on Saturday at Captain Ron’s Bar and Grill, and from 1 to 5 p.m. at Beavers at the Dam, with live entertainment. There will also be a drawing for a new, sit upon kayak, with fishing options, that is open to the public. Everyone is invited to come and cheer the racers at the finish line. 

Kayak demonstration Friday  

A kayak demonstration, hosted by the Lake of the Ozarks Watershed Alliance, will be offered from 1 to 4 p.m. Friday, Oct. 3 at the Last Resort Campground in Warsaw.

Professional Kayak Champion Joe Zelner and Epic Surf Ski dealer Ron Ladzinski will present demonstrations on two different brands of boats, both made for big water. Participants will be able to try out a Surfski or a Stellar kayak, and discover for themselves which is the best boat for them. One is the sit-on-top type, the other, a sit-in boat.

Zellner will be available to steer paddlers to the boat that would be best for each person, based on their skill level, and intended use.

Zellner has been paddling since the age of 15 and he competes in at least eight races a year including, but not limited to The Snake River, Washington Island, Two Harbors, MR340, South Dakota Challenge, South Dakota Battle, Phatwater, Volunteer 80, Cumberland 101 and the 2 Dam Days Extreme Limited.

For more information call LOWA at 573-434-4400 or visit soslowa.org.

Lake of the Ozarks Watershed Alliance

“The purpose of 2 Dam Days Flat-water International Championship is to spotlight the Lake of the Ozarks internationally, extend the tourist season, increase awareness of clean water and the sport of paddling, and raise funds for the Lake of the Ozarks Watershed Alliance, LOWA clean water efforts,” said LOWA Executive Director Donna Swall.

Volunteers needed

LOWA has worked very hard to secure the safety of the racers by strategically placing 40 safety boats in the water. LOWA is seeking paddlers and volunteers. Volunteers are needed in many areas including; safety boats, hospitality, check points and boat captains. To sign up go to 2damdays.org or call Swall at 573-434-4400.

Valerie Littrell
Broker/Sales - ABR, GRI