Be sure to read our full summary and catch the great video highlights of the 2014 Round the Rock race!
The 2014 Round the Rock stand up paddleboarding race took place last weekend at Seward Park just outside of Seattle, Washington. The premiere race and namesake of the event is a paddleboard course that circles Mercer Island—approximately 13-13.5 miles.
The racers took off, men and women, in all board categories at the same time on Sunday morning. The rules were simple—no drafting off of other board classes or opposite genders. Oh, and go fast! Round the Rock also employs a “sweep or weep” rule, meaning if you pass a larger board class than you (pass an unlimited board on a 14’ board or a 14’ board on a 12’6”, etc.) then you claim that prize money. Kind of a sweet deal.
Right around the two hour mark, the first racers began to come in. The first board across the line was Brett Saguid, a local from Spokane, Washington who rode in the unlimited category.
When we interviewed Brett, he said the entirety of his 2:07:16 on the water wasn’t all easy. Part of the difficulty were the conditions.
“It was a tough race—it was hot out there.”
The racers caught a headwind on the backside of Mercer Island, becoming a challenge for some and offering a momentary reprieve from the heat for others. For Brett, it was the latter who said, “it actually felt really good to go into the head wind.”
After crossing the finish line, it was obvious that Saguid was exhausted, his hand shaking as he put a volunteer-filled cup of water to his lips.
“At the finish, being so tired, trying to give it your all and [you] don’t feel like there’s [any] glide, but it was a fun race. An awesome race.”
The first woman to finish not only posted a scorching time (2:18:20), but was one of the top 10 finishers. International competitor Lina Augaitis finished 8th overall (I say 7th in the interview because that’s how it was announced—oops!) crushed the field coming in just 11 minutes after the winner and a full 10 minutes before the next female finisher.
This is the third time Lina has competed at Round the Rock and even though she’s a fierce competitor in some of the larger events (like the recent Columbia Gorge Paddle Challenge), there’s appeal for her in this small, homegrown races.
“I love the grassroots kind of feel.”
Part of the appeal for Augaitis is seeing people new to the sport competing in their first races. Having just taught a clinic at a large Canadian race the week previously, she said part of the joy she got out of that event was teaching someone and then watching them race for the first time. She really is a great ambassador for the sport and is dedicated to seeing it grow with the next generation of SUPers.
Like Saguid, Lina said that the conditions (hot and dry) presented their own unique set of challenges, though that didn’t keep her from pushing herself.
“I felt pretty good. A little hot as the wind calmed down, but in general I felt really great.”
For Augaitis, it’s less about the conditions and more about mental toughness. Instead of battling through wind and waves (as she did her first time racing at Round the Rock three years ago), you have to work to stay focused and motivated when it’s flat.
“On such a long race—a hot, calm day—a lot of it’s in your mind.” The difficulty of that kind of race “is less physical and more mental.”
So Lina’s strategy was to get out in front quickly, “go fast off the start and not let anybody draft me and just hold it.”
She did that and crossed the finish line triumphantly, racking up a pretty decent paycheck in the process.