460-mile paddle brings Skagway daughter and father closer
Interview by Casey Grove
Skagways Jeff Brady, 48, and Annie Dawson Brady, 15, will compete in the mixed canoe class of the 2005 Yukon River Quest beginning June 29. At 460 miles, the paddle from Whitehorse to Dawson City is the longest annual canoe and kayak race in the world.
You guys are the only father and daughter team?
JB: This year. Theres been one before, in 2002, and they did really well, theyre from the Coldfoot, Chandalar lake area. That kind of inspired me, and her actually when I told her about it, to want to enter this years race as soon as she got to be 15, which is the miniumum age that you can be in the Yukon River Quest.
Annie, what about that did you think was so cool?
ADB: I guess it inspired me. Made me feel encouraged, I guess. So that I knew that someone else well I was, how old was I, probably 12?
JB: You were 12, yeah.
ADB: That someone could actually do it that was 15. Because 460 miles, I mean, we just did like, what, 50 miles the other night? That was fun.
(both laughing) It was kind of hard, well, it was good, and then like 5:30 in the morning, I was kind of like...
JB: Falling asleep...
ADB: Im tired now, but yeah, it was cool.
JB: When youre out there paddling in the middle of the night, you cool down quite a bit, so you have to keep fluids going, keep eating something, to give you enough energy to get through. Youre usually fine as long as you dont get cold, but man, as soon as the sun comes up about 6:00, it just bakes you. Thats when your energy goes, and you have to get beyond that, thats going to be the key, I think. The hardest part of the race is getting through the first night and the first day. I think once you make it through that, you can go all the way.
Is it nice being able to eat as much as you want for a race like this?
ADB: I pretty much eat all the time, so, I dont know. What, Im supposed to eat bulkier food?
JB: Well, pastas, and were just going to carbo load as much as we can.
ADB: Am I allowed to eat cookie dough?
JB: I think so.
ADB: Im a cookie dough freak! When Im allowed to eat cookie dough...
JB: As long as you can still chew it, you can eat it. (laughing)
ADB: But yeah, its nice to be able to eat as much as you want, well of certain foods obviously, the good foods, but still its nice. Food is always good.
JB: You want to have stuff thats easy to eat, and easy to get to, and easy to gobble up quickly, because you want to be paddling. The top canoe teams will be doing 60 strokes a minute. Ill be happy with 40. Thatll get us there.
Are you looking forward to getting this thing underway?
JB: Yeah, were almost a week out, so were still trying to get some more training in to get used to the canoe, and get used to the things that you have to do during the race to be comfortable, make sure your water systems good and you can get to the food you need. You want to minimize the disorganization, because the better organized your boat is when you do get tired, the better off youll be as far as paddling. Its all about the paddling, you just want to keep paddling.
ADB: It kind of becomes second nature though, after awhile you arent even thinking about it. When we were paddling on Marsh Lake, I was just like, every eight [strokes]. I wasnt even thinking about it. I was in my own little world.
JB: We go every eight strokes and then we switch. And then if were in a wind, we switch every four to six. Unlike normal canoeing, you dont want to rudder, you want to turn the boat if you have to by just paddling on the same side. You want to always keep the paddle in the water.
Annie, whats your favorite thing about paddling?
ADB: Its kind of nice because you just get to think. When we were paddling last Saturday, this is another thing Im really excited about, the sunsets. I love sunsets. It was so cool to see everything and its so great because its so peaceful. When youre in the city, especially in Denver (her winter home), its just insane, all the time. And Skagway in the summer, is insane. Its really nice just for once in a while to have peace. Except when the birds start attacking you.
Thats not so peaceful, huh?
JB: We were on Marsh Lake, and it was the middle of the night, and we go by some beautiful swans, and then some loons, and then we get really close to this marsh. All of a sudden its like The Birds. All of a sudden, all of these Arctic Terns come out of their nests and basically just swarming us. They didnt go for our heads, but they reminded us they were there. Yeah, it was wild!
ADB: My aunt Kathy [ODaniel], not last year on our river trip, but the year before, I remember her looking over at me when we had pulled all of our canoes together and we were rafting and she said something like, Now just think, in a few months youre going to be sitting in school and youre going to think back to this. Youre going to close your eyes and just think of how calm it is. No homework, just hanging out on the river. Its kind of nice, whenever Im on a river, I think of that. How, its so peaceful, and its just away from everything. Its a good place to get away, its really nice. Months later Ill be thinking, God, I wish I was back on the river, even though the day of, Im like, Dad, I dont want to go today!
Jeff, how important is it to you to be able to spend this time with your daughter?
JB: Its the best time. Ive had her in a canoe since she was six, and every year we do a longer trip. What weve done before is mainly family trips, and just relaxing on the rivers. But when we do need to paddle, to get somewhere, to get to a campsite within a decent hour, shes got a good motor on her. Ive always known that she could do this.
Anything else you guys want to say?
JB: Were just thankful for all the encouragement from people in town.
ADB: People are like, So, youre doing the race? and its like, Yeah. I didnt know everyone knew, but thats cool! So, thats kind of nice, and theyre like, Good luck!
JB: Were going to try to do a couple radio call-ins. AP&Ts letting us have a satellite phone, so were going to try and call the radio station from Carmacks (Thursday) and Fort Selkirk or Kirkman Creek (Friday) checkpoints. You can keep track of our progress at the race Website, www.yukonriverquest.com. Were team number four, we wont be far from the top.
The race starts at 12:30 p.m. on June 29 in Whitehorse with a LeMans style start from Main Street down to the river. Watch for Annie Bradys race journal in the July 8 issue.
Pedaling for Skagway
This years Kluane Chilkat International Bike Relay on June 25 will feature at least nine Skagway teams.
Sockeye Cycle has both four-person and eight-person teams riding under the Sockeye Blue Ribbon banner. The Red Onion is sponsoring an all-female team called Hos for the Klondike,and another all-female team, Jewels of the Mile, will also attack the 148-mile course.
Last years eight-person winners, Blood, Sweat and Gears, are back for more, and Fairway Markets Soft and Supple are also throwing wheels at the course.
Perhaps the most inventive team name is Air You Never Breathe Twice. Thomas Pickerel said the name was an attempt to stay at the top of the standings, which are alphebetized.
Rumor has it, Vicky Moy and Elizabeth Ruff have also organized a four-woman team, and there could be more. Watch for race coverage in the July 8 edition.