"Road Trip!" we yelled as the four of us took off for Knoxville Tennessee where the MOV'n Dragons would be participating in Dragon Boat races in Knoxville's 10th annual Dragon Boat Festival. There were 20 of us going. All of us psyched and ready to be out on the beautiful Tennessee River. We'd been training for over a month and were excited about the trip and the competition.
Friday was practice day. We had 1 1/2 hours to see the racing venue and actually get in the boat - they are provided for us - to work on form, pace, synchronization, and power. It was a beautifully sunny day, but the temperature was around 95 degrees - sweating weather.
Saturday was Festival Day. Our first race was at 9 a.m. We competed against two teams from the community and our mentor team - the Akron OH Dream Team. Let's just say that we did come in ahead of Akron, but the two local teams proved to be too much for us. We could use the rationalization that they were young strong men and women (emphasis on the young and strong), but it wouldn't change the results.
Knoxville is a big draw for Dragon Boat races. There were 58 teams there - four teams in each race. Our second race was around noon. Now we were more psyched, more stretched and more tuned in. Our race start was smooth and synchronized. This time we left the other three teams behind us - not by much, but enough so that we actually came home with the trophy for best in our division - all women breast cancer survivors and supporters.
Now, I don't know about you, but winning a trophy for anything at age 63 is an accomplishment worth feeling terrific about. There is a wonderful sense of achievement when you work very hard together with a group of people, and then you actually win something for it!
The amazing thing in all of this for me is that yes, we are all a group, but each one of us individually offers so much to make the group work so well together! We each have our individual talents, but when we put them all together, we not only do well in competitions, we enrich our own lives. There is a wonderful dynamic to all of this, and I know that my life has been fuller and happier because of what we can all do together.
Dragon Boat festivals around the country and the world include Community teams -groups from hospitals, local businesses, non-profits and other organizations. They are not formal, practicing teams, but they raise funds for a particular community cause and then participate in the competition so that the profits go to that cause.
The MOV'n Dragons are in the beginning stages of planning for a Dragon Boat Festival right on our rivers. It was our founder Gretchen Feldmaier's dream, and it has become ours. So if you ever see a funny looking boat on the Muskingum, with 22 people paddling away, know that some day our rivers may be host to lots of other funny looking boats with lots of people having lots of fun - right here in Marietta.