Today my son Pat and I competed in the annual Philadelphia Dragon Boat Festival.
We competed as part of the Friends of the Linda Creed Breast Cancer Foundation, and were among approximately 120 teams that participated in the Festival. With 20 paddlers and a drummer on each team, that adds up to more than 2,500 racers. The race takes place on Philadelphia’s iconic Schuylkill River.
Each team races a total of three times, with about two to three hours in between races. The race distance is 500 meters, and takes teams anywhere from about two to three minutes to complete.
The first race determines your seeding for the second round, sorting teams into one of six groups, A-F, with group A having the fastest boats. These are typically teams that take a serious approach to the race, and often travel great distances to this race (there were teams from Baltimore and Washington, D.C.).
Based on the results of our first race, our boat was one of 14 boats that qualified for Group E. The second round then pitted these 14 boats against each other, in two heats consisting of seven boats each. Based on the results of this second race, the 14 teams were then sorted into a Consolation heat and a Final heat.
Our team made it into the Final heat, and at this point we were hoping to finish in the top three so that we could earn a medal.
Unfortunately, we had some problems at the start of our third race, not knowing that the race had already started by the time we launched from our starting position. As a result, we were a couple of boat lengths behind within the first few seconds of the race, and we were not able to recover.
Despite the disappointing finish, it was a great day. The organizers of our team, Mary and Gerard Olson, did a great job throughout the whole process, from getting us registered, to scheduling and running practices, and to making today such a fun event for all involved. It was also a great way to raise money for such a worthy cause.
So thank you Mary and Gerard for your efforts; we look forward to next year!