Last month Adado Riverfront Park was littered with a myriad of brilliant colors, spectators, chanting….and dragon boats? YES! The park played host to the second annual Capital City Dragon Boat Race benefitting the Women’s Center of Greater Lansing. Dragon boat racing originally came to Lansing in 2011 as a way to celebrate the rebirth of the waterfront area after the redevelopment, as well as a unique way to bring Michiganders to the Capital City during the long Labor Day Weekend. I attended the inaugural race years ago when living downtown, but had completely forgotten about its existence until seeing the long, slip, open boats racing down the Grand River. I excitedly grabbed my friend’s hand and RAN all the way to the finish line insistent not to miss the last few meters of the race (we had after all, placed bets on the first match while running along the banks)! After watching a few matches, we decided to take a stroll through the vendors and team tents to take a look at the weekend standings to be able to make more educated bets on the teams. I was quite taken aback when I realized I knew someone on a team and could actually cheer for a friend as opposed to the “blue team!”
I met up with Morgan Brace, Michigan State Kinesiology Senior, to answer all your burning dragon boat questions and shed some insider light on the event.
What was your team name?
Kin Dragons from the Kinesiology Department at Michigan State University (They placed third in the event overall- Go Green!)
How would you describe dragon boat racing?
It’s a 20 man canoe race where two teams compete at the same time. Both teams race don a long strip of a river and try for the fastest time of removing the flag from the flag stand at the finish
How did you hear about dragon boat racing?
I work as a research assistant in the kinesiology department and they needed more people for their team and asked me to join!
Do you have any advice for first time participants?
I was a first timer! The day of the tournament was my second time over on a dragon boat. My advice would be for everyone to try it once in their lifetime. It was quite an experience!
Will you participate in dragon boat racing in the future?
I would love to! The captain of the team for the kinesiology department said I could participate next year as an honorary member since I will be graduating in the spring.
What was your favorite part of the event?
Racing! I have such a competitive drive and once I stepped into the boat, I went in to full time winning mode! I was even more stressed out since I was just learning how to dragon boat race.
What was your least favorite part of the event?
The weather. Having to paddle your heart out made you kind of warm, but once you finished, you realize the air is freezing! Not to mention by the end of a match, you’re soaking wet with river water.
How did you prepare for the event?
The day before the race, we had a practice day where we learned how to race as a team. I also made sure to dress really warm.
The next Capital City Dragon Boat Race is slated for Labor Day Weekend 2015 in conjunction with the Michigan Mosaic Festival at Adado Riverfront Park. More information can be found at Capitalcitydragonboat.com.