News>Like father like daughter, new record in world's longest canoe race
Senior Master Sgt. Jonathan Redfern, Air Mobility Command, his 12 year-old daughter Lauren and her friend Kaitlin Jiral, 21, hold their trophies at the finish line Lewis and Clark Boat House, St. Charles, MO August 3, 2012, after placing their team won third place in their division and 18th overall in the 7th Annual MR340 race. The race is the longest canoe race in the world.(Courtesy photo)
Senior Master Sgt. Jonathan Redfern, Air Mobility Command, his 12 year-old daughter Lauren and her friend Kaitlin Jiral, 21, take off with 340 boats at the 7th Annual MR340 race start line in Kansas City, August 3, 2012, Thier team won third place in their division and 18th overall in the longest canoe race in the world.(Courtesy photo)
Senior Master Sgt. Jonathan Redfern, Air Mobility Command, his 12 year-old daughter Lauren and her friend Kaitlin Jiral, 21, paddle to the Lewis and Clark Boat House, St. Charles, MO.,finish line of the 7th Annual MR340 race August 3, 2012. The MR340 is the longest canoe race in the world. Their team finished third in their division and 18th overall.(Courtesy photo)
by Staff Sgt. Stephenie Wade
375th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs office
8/7/2012 - SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. -- A father-daughter duo and a third teammate spent a rigorous 54 hours paddling day and night 340 miles down the Missouri River and along the way broke a few records to earn 18th place out of 230 teams.
Twelve-year-old Lauren Redfern set the record as the youngest paddler ever to compete and finish in the MR340 race, which is the longest canoe race in the world. She and her father, Senior Master Sgt. Jonathan Redfern, Air Mobility Command, and fellow teammate, Kaitlin Jiral, 21, set a goal to finish in 68 hours, but they surprised everyone by finishing in 54 hours and 27 minutes.
At the start of the race July 30, there were 340 teams, but by Aug. 3, only 230 finished, giving the Redfern team third place in their division. During the event, teams had mandatory check points with race officials that also offered a rest stop where support teams could provide food and medical supplies.
"My motivation for participating in this race was knowing that if I finished I would be the youngest paddler to ever do the race and paddle the entire 340 miles," said Lauren. "...And a promise of an ice cold McDonald's coke at the finish line kept me going."
Lauren said the hardest part of the race was staying in the boat when she really wanted to get out and trying to stay awake.
"It's very easy to get angry at your teammates when you are tired, hungry, wet and cold," she said. "It was also a little strange to be so tired that your eyes start to play tricks on you. I kept seeing large crowds of people and a bear on the sand bars."
Endurance, competitiveness and patience were other key skills the team said they used to complete the race.
Kaitlin said, "We are very proud of our top 20 finish. We beat paddlers that have been racing for years. It was pretty exciting."
Jonathan added, "Anyone who knows Kaitlin and Lauren know that they are very competitive, however, my goal for both girls was for them to have a positive experience so that they would want to race again."
Lauren's mom, Edie, a 375th Force Support Squadron education service counselor, said they had a great experience, even though Lauren dealt with her fear of fish jumping in the boat based on previous run-ins with Asian Carp. She explained how Lauren was kayaking when an Asian Carp jump into her boat and bruised her ribs before she could get it back out of the boat. During the night on this race, the team skirted one of the shallow dikes, and three carp jumped into the boat, but no one was hurt.
Lauren said, "It was scary and the biggest fish I have ever seen. It was dark, we were stuck on a log and the fish weighed at least 20 pounds. The fish was so big my Dad had to grab it by its tail and throw it out of the boat. Two more jumped in before we were able to get out of the wing dike."
While Lauren set the record for being the youngest to compete and finish, Jonathan is no stranger to breaking records either. In 2010, his team set a Guinness World Record for the longest journey by dragon boat [a long boat decorated with dragons and 21-member crew] in the MR340 race.
As a veteran paddler, he has also participated in adventure races all over the world. Most recently he participated in the 2012 Texas Water Safari world's toughest canoe race in San Marcos. This is his third time participating in the MR340 race, and he has finished top five in the last two races.
He said his interest in paddling began in when he was stationed at Howard AFB, Panama, where he raced in the Cayucos from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean through the Panama Canal. Because of Jonathan's extensive paddling skill and knowledge, Lauren was allowed to get a waiver to participate in this year's race.
"Jonathan's been teaching Lauren how to paddle long before she knew her ABC's," said Edie. "He also has taught her about nutrition. For instance, when preparing for long races like this, you shouldn't' drink caffeine or eat a lot of sugar because it dehydrates you, which is why she was looking forward to a coke at the end of her race."
Lauren, a seventh grader at Holy Childhood School in Mascoutah, remembers when he built a kayak for her at age 5, dubbed "Little Blue," and recently they have taken their canoe called Minnesota 3 on trips they to the Kaskaskia River so she could learn to paddle and steer correctly.
"He also made me learn how to do a wet entry just in case we flipped," she said. "In training for this event, we did a long eight-hour paddle on the Missouri River so I could get used to the river and learn how hard it would be to sit in the boat for long periods of time. My dad is huge on safety and drilled me on boating safety rules, what-if scenarios, and boat and river terminology."
Lauren said she plans to keep up with the sport and do as many races as possible that her father supports, which seemed to please him.
"So many times we see young athletes in paddling sports compete in one race, never to compete again," he said. "Who knows, maybe in a few years there will be just a female team of Redfern and Jiral."