Race Report: Paddle At The Park 2023

Welcome back endurance racing fans! It’s been a minute since I did a race report because due to last year’s battle against endometriosis, I basically didn’t race! I enjoyed Paddle at the Park in 2021 so much that I signed up for Paddle at the Park 2022, but unfortunately had two ER trips in the week before the race so I pulled out. Good thing too because three days later I was sent to the ER again for suspected sepsis. I’m thankful to say that the surgery I received in November saved my life and got me back on my feet and kicking ass again.

I still consider myself a paddleboarding novice and today’s race did reinforce how much I can still learn, but today was about getting out there and crossing the finish line. This was a new venue/location from the last few years as well, located on the Okaloosa Island Boardwalk which meant it was even closer to home for me.

Today you’re getting my full race report for Paddle at the Park – Stand Up Paddle Board Race (1 mile)

Check in:

This was an easy morning: I had packed all my bags, prepped snacks and water, then loaded my paddleboard the night before. All I needed to do was wake and feed the kiddo and myself then pop in the car and drive away. Packet pick up was right on the boardwalk so five minutes after setting up my half tent I had my packet and was strapping on my ankle timer.

Starting line:

Much calmer than 2021

All race distances started in the same location and it was a run straight into the surf.

The course:

This race still offers a 1, 3, and 6-mile options as well as a kids race. Since I have only raced a paddle board once before and am in the final phases of surgical recovery, I opted for the 1-mile course. At the new location, 1-mile racers paralleled a long fishing pier, looped a buoy, then returned to the start.

There were three buoys directly in front of us and the course director said that going to the second, making a right hand turn, and returning would be the mile course. I think he misunderstood because my GPS only showed a half mile of paddling and I think we needed to go to the third and final buoy.

Full distance ended up way less than a mile

Unlike last year, the weather was perfect if a little breezy, which you can see from my banana shaped track. With no weather holds, everything went on time and I didn’t miss the start this time!

Weather: Perfect temperature but the wind made for some chop and breaking surf at the shore. A little daunting for a novice racer.

Did I hit the Pain Cave?

Hahaha. Nope! But, had I done the 3-mile course, I probably would have. That said, if the course had been a true 1 mile, I might have.


No crew for this race, just my kiddo cheering me on and a friend snapping pictures for me.

The finish line:

This was a wild experience for someone who’s never raced SUP. To finish, you ride your board in as far as you can get, then ditch it. (A volunteer collects it for you.) Then you *sprint* up the beach, paddle in hand, to the finish line. Why? Because you have to hand a paddle in hand for it to count as a finish!

Final time:

13:28 for slightwayly less than 1 mile which means I was much slower than the last race. But this year’s goal was to not fall off too much (I fell once), finish strong, and not lose my board! I was pretty successful and then got all morning to hang at the beach with my kid and teach her how to boogie board.

Overall thoughts:

I had a blast! Hung out with my kid, took in the sun, and enjoyed a new experience.

The Gear List:

My gear lists so folks can see what I’m carrying and how it changes between courses and weather. As usual, some affiliate links, most aren’t; I am not sponsored by any specific companies.


Swim Suit: I’m a disaster here, I have two different brands on! My top is the Tyr Durafast Diamond Back Workout Bikini. Great top for swimming and SUP if you need more support than their tieback tops. The bottoms are the Nike Essential Cheeky Swim Bottom. Doesn’t cover much but it stays in place and I like the freedom of movement, especially as I’m running of popping up on the board.

PFD: I’ve just switched to the Drift Belt since my bulky kayaking PFD impeded my movement too much.

Leash: Uni Gear 10′ Coiled. I’ve never needed a leash before but damn I needed it on race day!

Hat: My trusty finishers hat from the River Cities Tri a few years ago. Lost it to the waves on turn 2, but a kind race watcher found me and gave it back after the race.


Snacks, self carried: None because, duh, water. I did pack a picnic for the kiddo an I which we both enjoyed.


Board: Bote HD 12′ – It’s big, its bad bass, its versatile, and my daughter loves riding it. That said, she’s heavy, turns like a pig, and it’s a great racing board.

GPS: Garmin Forerunner 945 – Y’all know I love this watch and I’ve talked about it before, the good and bad. I didn’t have any tracks walk-offs today and I’m confident in the recorded distance/time accurately.

For more race reports check these out:

Paddle at the Park 2021

Bear Bait 25k – 2021

Bear Bait 25k 2023

BUTS Bearly Heavy half

Mississippi 50k – Ultramarathon at last!

Charlotte RaceFest

Happy trails!

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