Rady Stories – Shawn Corrigan Paddles The Yukon

July 27, 2015

The Yukon River Quest is an annual marathon canoe and kayak race. Paddlers  from around the world converge to test their endurance, racing one of North America’s great rivers to the Klondike.

And Rady member, Shawn Corrigan, represented us well, finishing second overall in the individual time trial in a time of just over 50 hours.

Yes, you read that right, 50 hours. 

“This is as much a mentally challenging race as a physical one.¬†This is a wilderness race and you can be out of contact with anyone for hours,” Corrigan says.

“It’s cold, you’re exhausted and you need to force yourself to stay in the boat and working. Lots of people will drop out due to hypothermia. Others will start to hallucinate. Both conditions can be dangerous.”

The race maximum is 80 hours with two mandatory rest stops (lasting only 7 and 3 hours respectively). 

“For me the race is roughly 20 hours straight of paddling, a break, another 20 hours paddling, a break, then 10 hours paddling to the finish line,” Corrigan adds.

“Early in the race there are lots of boats close together and it really feels like a sprint, but over the first 8 to 10 hours the leaders break away and spread out. ¬†It becomes more of a mental race at that point. You have to keep moving and race against yourself.”

Corrigan said the Rady JCC helped him prepare for the race over the winter months.

“Since the water in Manitoba is frozen until sometime in May, I need to rely on cross training to maintain my fitness. I spent many hours in the Rady Centre gym and pool. Without access to the Rady Centre I would not have been able to race this year. ¬†This race draws competitors from around the world, and many of them have an advantage since the climate is much warmer.”

Corrigan enlisted the services of Rady Fitness trainer, Guilherme Ossig, to help take his performance to the next level.

“Gui¬†was great. When I started training for this race I was in rough shape. ¬†I had taken a couple years off from competitive paddling to complete a Masters Degree,” Corrigan says.

“Gui¬†was up to the challenge and helped me target the required muscle groups. ¬†He was very creative in how we exercised to simulate the paddling movements and build up my cardio. ¬†I don’t think I would have performed very well if I hadn’t been working with Gui.”

Corrigan got the itch for paddling when he lived in the Yukon some 10 years ago, first inspired to complete the entire gold rush route from 1898.

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