Hours and hours and hours

I’ve often wondered how many hours an Ausable River Canoe Marathon competitor spent training.  Now I wish I didn’t know.

Of all the questions that people ask me, this one has to be the most frequented, along with a few different spin-offs.  How many hours do you spend training?  A lot.  Is there a set number of hours to guarantee a finish?  No, though I must say I’ve heard a few different “magic” numbers tossed out there.  Is there something you’d rather be doing other that training?  Uh, I like eating Mexican food and drinking margaritas.  Does that count?

The real answer, like everything else, is clearly-

It depends.

Actual on water time for a seasoned veteran paddler varies.  One person might put in 100 hours.  The next 200.  Someone else might be content with 75 hours.  When I first started out, I wanted to know what the “magic” number is.  That number that gives you the best chance of success.  The reason why that number varies, is simple.  Everyone is a little different.  Their physical capabilities and current state.  Their goals.  Their technical skill levels.  Before I even attempt to address how many numbers is the right amount, it’s important to talk about how people actually count.  And I must warn you.

One thing is very clear.  Hour counts are the paddling world’s version of liars poker.

There’s the embellisher.  This person always has about 50% more hours than anyone else.  Yet you never see them on the river.  Best that I can figure, they must paddle year round.  At night.  By themselves.  These people don’t believe in Garmin or Strava accounts.  Clearly they are anti-technology as well, as there is no record of what they are doing anywhere.  They are also the first people to message out of the blue with an update.  Hit the gym tonight.  Paddled town to Rayburns with so and so.  Fastest trip on the river yet.

Cool.  Thanks for the update?

There’s the early counter.  These people always have some number that seems higher than possible.  Except they actually have the hours they claim.  If you start counting the day after the past year’s Marathon is completed.  It’s easy to pick this person out in January.  You’ll be standing in a group, chit chatting, talking about something important, like Mexican food, and they’ll declare they just broke the 50 hour mark for the year.  Really, it’s January 12th?  And you have 50 hours in already?  Did you take the first week of the year off work and paddle 40 hours instead?  Oh I see.  You count hours from the end of the last marathon.

At some point, I expect these people to start COUNTING the current marathon as part of next years hours.

There’s the downplayer (editors note, I’m not sure if this is a word or not, but I’m delirious from tequilla and sunburn so I’m going with it).  The rest of the world has a pretty good idea how many hours they have.  Even if they aren’t actually counting them and keeping exact track.  The downplayer though?  No clue.  If you ask them, they have plenty of hours in.  Literally, that’s what they say, in a defensive manner.  How many hours do you have in- ooooo don’t you worry about me, I’ve got plenty of hours in…As if plenty were a quantitative figure.  They then follow that with a reinforcing.  I’ll be ready by the end of July.  You don’t need all those hours anyway.  Sometime mid June, they start hitting the river frantically.  This is why MCRA events end of June have low attendance.

Gotta get those long runs in from Town to Town line those weekends.  Might even stretch it out to Conner’s.  Never fails.

The list goes on and on.  Me personally, I’m a Garmin slave.  My number is 234 hours, 17 minutes, and 36 seconds.  Good luck figuring out what I actually tracked and when.


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