My Story – Kate

I heard about dragon boating when I mentioned to someone that I fancied getting back on the water after many years away. I had kayaked before when I was younger.She suggested dragon boat racing and there was a club around the corner near Trent Bridge, which sounded great, so I looked them up on Facebook and sent a message about coming along.
The minute I sent that I became extremely anxious – what was I thinking? I have an anxiety disorder and I’m short/overweight/not very fit/previous back injury, I mean surely I would hold them back, quite literally? I’d never fit in!

I got a quick reply that there was a race on and to come down to meet people, then I could come along for a Sunday session. Straight away the anxiety told me I wasn’t going to fit in, this wouldn’t work and I’d look daft.

But I pushed past that and went along anyway. Wow, it looked amazing! Everyone was so friendly and I saw all shapes, sizes and levels of ability at that race day. Maybe I could do this?So I went along on the Sunday and once I was shown what to do, got in the boat and, I’ll be honest, I found it a bit hard going. I had to keep stopping because I was tired and my arms ached. I decided I couldn’t possibly do this (I’m an expert at talking myself out of things) and I would politely excuse myself when we got back.

I didn’t expect the words of encouragement from everyone, really wanting me to come back and keep at it, so I came back and tried again and again. I still found it hard with my fitness and on many occasions started talking myself out of it again but the team were all there to provide that support.
So I went to two other race days. I didn’t compete myself; I took some photos and cheered the team on from the side.
But every time there was a team huddle to talk about the before and after, I was invited to take part. They didn’t know how much that meant to me, to be included like that, and being so anxious (I am very talkative and outgoing so people can’t see how much I really mask it). I thought I might sit on the sidelines as I wasn’t racing, but that wasn’t the case at all and I’ve never felt more included anywhere. The socials are great fun too!

This motivated me to get fitter so I could compete. I was now doing things I hadn’t even dared consider before, like the Macmillan swim challenge. I completed 563 lengths of the pool, so I finally got my fire back!

After getting advice on my paddling posture during a session in the club house when the river wasn’t behaving enough to go out in the boat, I managed to later paddle way better with a lot less stopping and it felt amazing to make that much progress; I felt really proud of myself. I even got my own paddle for my birthday. Again, I got plenty of advice on what to get and got in the boat even on a cold day. Suddenly winter training is another great challenge!

My advice for anyone wondering about trying it, is absolutely go for it! I’m really glad I kept at it; it has made such a massive difference to me, physically and mentally.
You feel like part of a family, always included and encouraged. I have seen the most amazing sportsmanship and friendliness at the competitions and at each session of training. It’s the best thing I’ve ever done!

Kate ☺

My first race

A group of new friends I didn’t know I had yet.

The day before – I have to get up at what time?

My very first real race with Notts Anaconda – a club I joined just two months ago. I’m feeling nervous and not altogether ready but definitely excited.A simple line in the race information pack shocks everything out of me. I need to get up at 5:30am on a Sunday!! My bag is already packed; it’s been packed for a while. I have repacked it twice just to calm the butterflies in my stomach and I’m re-reading the race info every five minutes.

Race day

It’s race day, it’s race day. The excitement sweeps away the earliness of the hour and I’m ready for the long journey to London way before my ride arrives. I check my kit one last time and hop into the car. I’m sharing with three other paddlers for the journey and we pass the time very quickly, talking about anything and everything except racing. I bring it up and suddenly realise that I’m not the only one who is nervous. The car is filled with nervous energy but everyone else seems more excited than worried. I’m not sure what the plan is as we arrive at camp. I put my name down to come and help everyone with the race. I’m looking forward to seeing my team in action.
There is lots to do, tents to put up, breakfast to be sorted, and toilets to be found… hey it was a long car journey! The first race comes up very quickly and I go to check the board. MY NAME IS ON IT! I’m racing in the first 200m race. I don’t have time to think about it before we are suddenly paddling to the start line. I’m checking everything – how’s my timing? Is my technique OK? I also realise I’m grinning from ear to ear.

“Attention… Go!”

A minute stretches into an eternity and yet it’s over in the blink of an eye. I try to remember everything from training and try to keep up. My arms are burning, and I can hear my heart beating like crazy as the helm calls ‘down’. Where did we come? Did we win? Right now I have no idea. I don’t really care about that at the moment though as I look around at my teammates in the boat. Everyone pats everyone they can reach on the back and the paddler to the left of me tells me “well done”. Right now, I only want to know one thing – when can I do that again?

Running around Tallinn

You just can’t keep us away from exercise! Throw in a trip to the fabulous capital of Estonia and off we go.

Twelve Anacondas set off to Tallinn to take part in their biggest running event, the SEB Tallinna Half Marathon, and one of us set out to complete the 10km race.

Of course it wouldn’t be an Anaconda road trip without some time to explore and see the sights… and bars, so we spent five nights exploring Tallinn and even had time to hop on a ferry over to Helsinki to tick another country off the list.

The event itself went well with everyone finishing their races and happy with their times and two half marathon runners even breaking the two-hour mark. We couldn’t have done it without the locals coming out to cheer us on, lining the course to encourage us in random and hilarious ways, from banging pots and pans together to playing a bugle!

We can definitely recommend Tallinn – so much to see and do, with a great night life and friendly people.

City of Nottingham triathlon

Three brave Anacondas took on the City of Nottingham Sprint Triathlon today, pitting their fitness and determination against a 300m swim, 12km cycle ride and 3km run.

The weather was pretty kind and proved to be a perfect day to be outside. Well done guys!

The final times:

Freddie: 00:53:00.840

Nick: 01:00:01.443

Rob: 01:03:42.627


It’s not just about dragon boat racing you know!

This morning a group of Anacondas met up at Holme Pierrepont to take part in the Water Wipeout challenge, a 10km obstacle course race with over 70 obstacles including high walls, waterslides, cargo nets, and of course lots and lots of water.

They rose to the challenge and worked as a team to finish the course, muddy, tired, but still laughing.

The last obstacle washed off most of the mud!

Iron Man 70.3

70.3 – the number of miles you cover in a half ironman under your own steam. A 1.2-mile swim, a 56-mile bike ride, and a 13.1-mile run all in one day.

Two of our clearly nuttier members completed the Staffordshire Half Ironman today, a pretty unbelievable achievement made all the more impressive by soaring temperatures.
We are proud of you both!

Amazing achievement, wouldn’t you agree.