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a tree next to a body of water

When I signed up for the Return to Goat Island Race, I wasn’t sure what I was getting myself into.  My first stand-up paddle board race with Capital SUP was the Bay Bridge 5k Paddle this past May and if you weren’t there, well let’s just say the water Gods were not in our favor and the conditions were pretty intense that day!  So needless to say I was going into my second race a little leery, but my spirits were high and it was time to step up and get back on the board again. So I decided to push myself further and sign up for the 6 mile race and I am so glad that I did!

a man riding a surfboard in the water

Myself and a couple of team members, Bernadette Kilcer and Sharon Pieczenik, decided to turn the race event into a girls weekend filled with camping at the Pocomoke River State Park in Snowhill, MD.  It was the perfect location just 5 minutes away from where the race was being held. We set up our tents (no glamping for these chicks) and got a good nights rest before our race in the morning!

Saturday morning arrived and it was race day.  I could already feel the butterflies and excitement stirring inside.  All of the team members who had completed this race in the past kept describing the water conditions as being “like glass” and when we arrived at the event I saw exactly what they were talking about.  The water was perfectly flat and smooth! We could not have asked for better racing conditions or a better view on the beautiful Pocomoke River!


The race:  After our pre-race meeting where we learned about the course, it was time to get on the water!  The one minute warning was called, everyone started lining up to the starting line and by that point the nerves were starting to kick in.  Then you heard the announcer yell out 30 seconds…10 seconds…BEEEEEP! We were off and the race had begun!

The 6 mile course took us around Goat Island (where you could see live goats hanging out) then it took us straight up the windy river. Eventually, I started noticing some of my teammates paddling back towards me and heard all of them cheering us on, cheering me on, and we were cheering back at them.

a person standing next to a body of water

Eventually, I started noticing some of my teammates paddling back towards me and heard all of them cheering us on, cheering me on, and we were cheering back at them. It was in that moment when I knew that these people and this community were exactly what I needed and who I wanted to be around. There was so much love and support being poured into those few brief moments, but they were moments that I will never forget. I made my way back down the river towards Goat Island again, taking one last trip around the island and then a straight shoot to the finish line! It was so awesome hearing my teammates cheering everyone on all the way to the finish line!

a group of people riding skis on a body of waterNot only was this race an amazing time spent bonding and getting to know my teammates better, but I also quickly learned the true meaning behind this whole event.  Return to Goat Island was put together by Paddle Second Chance and Walk on Water to benefit Operation Second Chance. This foundation was set up to provide support to wounded, injured, and ill Veterans and their families in times of need.  During the day, I work for the Department of Veterans Affairs assisting service members and veterans, so when I found out what this race was supporting I was so happy to be a part of it and knew I was exactly where I was supposed to be. We all helped Operation Second Chance raise over $50,000 for these veterans and their families.  That is so incredible!

I want to send a big shout out to all the Capital SUP race team paddlers who participated in this event.  You are all so strong and so inspiring! Also, major props sent out to those who completed the 17 mile race.  It was so awesome to be there to cheer you on as you crossed that finish line leaving it all on the water! Thank you to @returntogoatisland and @paddlesecondchancefor hosting a great weekend of racing, supporting wounded heroes and their families, and awesome community!  It was a weekend I will never forget.

Check out more photos in our photo album on Facebook. Photos courtesy of one of our newest Race Team Paddlers & long-time “team mom” Shannon Ballard.

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