2 Dam Days: Racer Profiles, pt. 2 - LakeExpo.com: News

2 Dam Days: Racer Profiles, pt. 2

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Posted: Wednesday, September 25, 2013 1:00 pm

LAKE OF THE OZARKS, Mo. — The Lake will churn with competition this weekend for the annual 2 Dam Days race, which offers one of the largest payouts of any kayak race in the country and draws racers ranging from enthusiasts to an Olympian.

Lake Expo interviewed some of this year's racers as they began gearing up for this weekend's event.

R. Kevin Appier


Age:  45 


City/State:  Paola, Kan.


Boat:  QCC700x


Race:  2 Dam Days Extreme 90


Business: Cattle rancher/retired athlete (Kansas City Royals)


Family:  Wife Laurie, and two daughters and a son


Race wins: Competed in Missouri River 340 in 2011, 2012 and 2013


Like to kayak: Long distance kayak races


Race strategy:  Paddle until I'm tired and then paddle more!


How/When/Why did you get started kayaking? The MR-340 got me hooked.


Susan Tretter

Age:  33

City/State: Higginsville, Mo.

Boat: 15.5 ft. 47 lb. Eddyline Fathom Kayak

Race: The Extreme Women’s Solo, 18 ft. and under

Business: Stay-at-home mom

Race wins: First race

Family: Husband Nate, two children

Like to kayak: Source to sea, you start in Bowers Spring, Mont. at the source of the Missouri River and paddle to St. Louis where it meets the Mississippi River and take it to the Gulf of Mexico

Race strategy: To finish well

How/When/Why did you get started kayaking? It started as a thought in my head that my husband encouraged. I purchased my first boat last year and I have been training non-stop since, on small lakes, on Truman Lake and on the Lake of the Ozarks on the Osage Arm. I have always had a little bit of an outdoorsy side in me. Some of my friends were doing boat float trips on the Missouri River and I thought it would be better in a kayak so I did it and fell in love with the kayaking sport. I made friends with the Missouri River Paddlers on Facebook and they helped to encourage my love of the sport.

Anything else we should know? I run and walk every day and I train by getting out on flatwater as much as I can. I am excited and I can’t wait.  

Jeremy Knox

Age: 39

City/State: Holden, MO

Boat: Epic V10L

Race: The Extreme

Business: Tower Climber, Wireless Internet Provider

Race wins: 0 for 2 kayaking – the tandem game didn’t work out, so flying solo now

Like to kayak: Just got my new boat about a month ago

Race strategy: Try and keep it upright with the other boys in sight!

How/When/Why did you get started kayaking? Been canoeing my whole adult life and a friend got me wanting to try this a few years ago. I’ve raced everything else you could think of so I said why not? We dove into the MR340. Most of my racing the last few years has been on the extreme obstacle courses. i.e. Tough Mudder, Spartan, Gladiators, etc. on foot. In the middle of gearing up for the World’s Toughest Mudder now, so getting to sit in a surf-ski for a few hours sounds like a nice break in comparison but I know it won’t be.

Anything else we should know? If you see me limping at the race, it’s because I’m doubling up on the Tough Mudder Saturday and Sunday in Topeka the weekend before 2 Dam Days and probably won’t be healed up all the way!

Bryan Hopkins


Age: 49


City/State: Columbia Mo


Boat: Epic V8 surfski


Race: 2 Dam Days Extreme 90 18 ft and under


Family: Married with two children 


Race wins: I won my division in several races this year


Like to kayak: Love rivers


Race strategy: Race smart


How/When/Why did you get started kayaking? I have been kayaking since college. I started racing almost seven years ago.

John DeWitte

Age:  40

City/State: K.C., Mo.

Boat: A 14 ft.- 43 lb. wooden KI Pygmy Arctic Tern  (he built himself)  

Race: The Extreme 18 and under

Business: Elevators

Family: Single

Race wins: 2009 MR-340, Seventh place in Men’s Solo; 2013 MR 340, second place in Team Division and seventh overall; 2012 and 2013 Carnivore in Lawrence, Kan., second place in K1 Division in 2013; 2013 Gritty Fitty first place in the K1 Division; 2013 Shootout on the Missouri River second place in the Team Division.    

Like to kayak: The Pacific Northwest

Race strategy: Don’t stop.

How/When/Why did you get started kayaking? I first started Kayaking down the Current River with the Boy Scouts, and I bought my first kayak in 2000. I love sitting on top of the water in a kayak. I enjoy the quiet and being removed from the hustle of everyday life. I started racing in 2009. I like that when I race it's just me and my boat.

Anything else we should know? It’s going to be a tough race because there’s no current, with flatwater and boat traffic. Most of the races are river races and they usually have some current.

Nancy Bowers


Age:  46


City/State:  Dripping Springs, TX


Boat:  22 ft Carbon-Kevlar; made by Ken Startz in 2013


Race:  2 Dam Days Women's Solo Xtreme 90 


Business:  Self-employed geoscientist (geology & geophysics); My company is named Subsurface Interpretation Services LLC


Family:  Single.


Race wins: Colorado River 100: Third place in the Adventure Class in 2010 and 2011; Solo Women's fastest plastic boat in 2011. Texas Water Safari: 2011, 2012, 2013; finished on all attempts. Thirteenth female to have ever finished the Texas Water Safari solo (2011). Colorado River Winter 100K; First place Solo Female Adventure Class in 2011; Solo Female first place Competition Class in 2012.  Neches River Race: First place Solo Female 2010, 2012. Buffalo Bayou Regata first place Solo Female Unlimited Class 2013. Missouri River 340, second place solo female 2013; Texas State Marathon Championships: First place Female Masters K-1; 2013 US Team Masters Marathon Trials: second place Female K-1; 2013 US Team Masters Sprint Trials: Third place Female K-1 5000m; first place 200m Female K-1 D Class; Third place Female K-2; third place Mixed K-4


Like to kayak:  Rivers, lakes, and whitewater. My favorite locations to kayak have lots of scenery and wildlife. The best are the Neches River race and the Texas Water Safari as they have a lot of variety in them. The Neches River race is an obstacle course of downed trees and the Texas Water Safari varies from whitewater, flat river, to open bay/ocean with lots of wildlife and unusually pretty scenery. 


Race strategy: Paddle as hard and as fast as I can before the boat traffic gets extremely heavy and I have to start dodging boat wakes. Find someone that is about the same speed as me, or a little faster, and try to stick as close as possible to them.  


How/When/Why did you get started kayaking? I paddled a few times as a kid and as an adult, but didn't really start kayaking until after I moved to Texas. The Texas summers are extremely hot, so if you want to be outdoors, doing something that gets you wet. In 2007, I took some whitewater kayaking lessons from Ben Kvanli who runs the Olympic Outdoor Center in San Marcos, Texas.  In the following few years I went on a few week long whitewater kayaking trips run by Ben to do whitewater kayaking in Mexico, the northeastern US, and Colorado. In 2010, I decided to try some ultra-marathon races and I have mainly been doing marathons since then. For the last year or so, I have been a paddle coach for the Texas Adventure Racing Team.


Anything else we should know?  I'm originally from Maple Valley, Wash., just south of Seattle, but my work has taken me all over the world

Traci Martin

Age: 46  

City/State: Lees Summit, Mo.

Boat: 23 ft. - 50 lb. Adventure Duet

Race: The Extreme, Women’s Tandem with partner Diane McHenry

Business: Nurse

Family: Single with two children  

Race wins: First place in the women’s solo in the 2011 MR340, and the 2010 and 2011 Gritty Fitty, third place in women’s solo in the 2012 MR340, First place in women’s tandem in the 2012 2 Dam Days Unlimited with former partner Marilyn Thieman.

Like to kayak: Off the coast of Alaska

Race strategy: To stay in the boat and keep paddling

How/When/Why did you get started kayaking? I paddled a lot by myself. In 2009 someone suggested I try and race, and I did well, and I have been racing ever since.

Anything else we should know? I enjoy being out on the water and I have a severely sick child and paddling is a stress reliever. Lake paddling is really hard and the Lake of the Ozarks is harder because of the big boats and waves. It’s going to be a hard race. I normally race solo so this is my first tandem race.

Jim “Shorty” Short

Age: 63  

City/State: Springfield, Mo.

Boat: 23 ft. Tandem Bullet Kayak

Race: Sweet 16 with wife Donna

Business: Retired Railroad

Family: Married with two children

Race wins: 2013 Kawnivore, Mixed Tandem, First place, 2013 Freedom Race, Mixed Tandem, First Place, 2013 Gritty Fitty, First Place Overall, and first in Mixed Tandem, 2013 Race to the Dome First Place C-1 Class, 2012 Tour Du Teche Third place in the Men’s Tandem, 2012 Extreme 90 First in mixed tandem.

Like to kayak: Lake of the Ozarks, 11 Point, Gasconade and Current Rivers

Race strategy: Go out hard, hang on as long as you can and try to out-sprint them in the end. My philosophy is “I don’t care who wins the first half of the race." Sometimes it’s not the fastest paddle that wins but it’s all about race strategy. You need to be in shape, pick the right course, maintaining contact throughout the race and then out-sprint towards the end. (Some of his co-racers call him the “River Fox”)

How/When/Why did you get started kayaking? Started in 1970’s, liked canoeing, but liked the idea of having the freedom in a kayak and being able to be out there by yourself. Then in the 1980’s I started paddling marathons. (Shorty has won several national championships in the canoe marathons as well.)

Anything else we should know? I enjoy helping other paddlers excel in the sport, whether it is coaching, pit crewing or repairing a boat. I enjoy racing so much that I put myself through a lot of pain to compete. I think that if given a chance, 2 Dam Days can become the premier race in country because of the location, the great support, the good volunteers, and the diversity of the race course.  

Doug Taube

Age: 41

City/State: St. Louis, Mo.

Boat: 14 ft. Wilderness Systems Pungo

Race: Ultra 66 Solo

Business: IT Manager

Family: Wife Diane, and one son

Race wins: 2013 Race for the Rivers, seventh place in the Solo Division

Like to kayak: The Missouri River

Race strategy: Just keep going and finish.

How/When/Why did you get started kayaking? Started six months ago, to get outside and get exercise, and a friend was doing it too.

Anything else we should know? It is going to be a big challenge. I have paddled 20 miles on a flatwater  and it was pretty rough, so 33 miles back to back with high wave potential will be an even bigger challenge.

Donna Short

Age: 60  

City/State: Springfield, Mo.

Boat: 23 ft. Tandem Bullet Kayak

Race: Sweet 16

Business: Oats Transportation Vehicle Maintenance

Family: Husband, two children

Race wins/races: 2013 Race to the Dome, second place

Like to kayak: Rivers in Missouri

Race strategy: Husband and race partner Jim “Shorty” Short will set the pace and I will go along with him.

How/When/Why did you get started kayaking? Used to hike, got a bad knee and couldn’t walk much and Jim was paddling so we started paddling together in competition. I love competing. I want to win.

Byron Rieper

Age: 64  

City/State: Overland Park, Kan.

Boat: No. 4229 15 ft. Venture Easky


Race: The Ultra 66

Business: Software Engineer for Garmin Incorporated

Family: Wife and four children

Race wins: Finished the 2013 MR-340

Race strategy: Enjoy the scenery and just finish

How/When/Why did you get started kayaking? I have been an ultra-competitor in running, cycling and Ironman for a long time and I wanted to do something other than legs and lungs so I started kayaking at the 31 Mile Marker at the Lake of the Ozarks. 


Anything else we should know? I have completed in 41 marathons (17 barefoot), raced a bicycle across the US six times, winning the Race Across America on a two-man relay in 2003 (3,000 miles in seven days, 14 hours and 58 minutes). I have also competed in multiple triathlons, a 1/2 Ironman and an Ironman.

Anything else we should know? I like any ultra-events regardless of whether it is running, swimming, cycling, paddling or trekking.

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