The Gorge Columbia River Challenge - KIALOA

October 15, 2018

The Gorge Columbia Paddle Challenge is a highlight of the summer for me!

Five years ago, I showed up for the event with an inflatable board, and the race marked my first downwind run ever. I don’t think I had ever paddled more than two miles at a time before entering that race. I may not have finished with the fastest time, but I loved it.

For the last three years, I have entered and competed in the Elite class. It is both a humbling and self-affirming experience competing against the best women SUP athletes in the world.

Since that first year, my husband and I have driven down a few days early so I can get some “just for fun” runs in before the race. This year, I witnessed a handful of friends from Seattle embarking on their first downwind runs in the Gorge. As much fun as I have finding the glides along the run, seeing them experiencing the fun for the first time has to be the best part of the whole experience!

- Sarah Sandstrom

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