strength in action: the 2009 gritty 50 / by Warrior Ant Press Worldwide Anthill Headquarters in Kansas City, Missouri, USA.

The 3rd Annual Gritty 50 turned out to be a bit of a holiday from the sun, sand, and sorrow that usually greet those who paddle the Kansas (or Kaw) River. Several rounds of thunderstorms that swept through the region the previous day and evening may have kept many from getting a full nights sleep but it didn't seem to slow most of the 50 or so racers who left the 8th Street ramp in Lawrence under cloudy skies, calm winds, and intermittent drizzle. The favorites flew off the front and by the first turn all but the serious contenders had been lost in the muddy waters. The cloud cover remained intact for most of the day and the winds, which had been expected to pick up, never ceased being much more than a breeze at your back. This didn't mean that suffering wasn't to be found; favorable conditions meant that folks were able to push themselves to the limit and not bonk on a sand bar.

Womens Solo (left to right): JoJo Newbold, 2nd; Di McHenry (1st); Lisa Grosmann (3rd).

Brian Hopkins, Columbia, MO successfully defended his men's solo title ahead of the entire field riding a flaming Surf Ski to a new course record. Hopkins was able to push the course record into previously uncharted territory (a little more than 6 hours) which may set himself up for some serious challenges come 2010. For those of you who like to do the math, Hopkins was able to motor over the entire 50-mile course very close to 8 mph; take away the portage and round up and you'll see this was some impressive work.

After last years humbling experience we piloted the lantern rouge boat for this years race which turned out to be only a small test of our patience. We were off the river by 1500 hours. OK. We only had to go to Edwardsville (34 miles) but this meant the slowest boats averaged about 5 mph over the race course. An impressive showing from the group as whole and indicates how the level of competitive flat-water paddling has increased in Mid-America over just a few short years. Kudos to the Rivermiles staff who proved once again they know how convince folks to suffer gladly.

final 2009 gritty 50 results
gritty 50 summer fashion show