Devils Extreme Race 2020

 Last weekend one of biggest whitewater events took place in southern Czech Republic in Lipno at Vltava River. Event gathers hundreds of paddlers from all around the Europe to enjoy one of very few water releases that happens over the weekend. Multiple kayaking disciplines take advantage of it organizing events in Slalom, Rafting and finally Extreme Kayaking.


Devils has been on Whitewater map for a while now especially as for few last years European Championships and the final of the European Cup were taking place. My first time to the event was 10 years ago and that was probably mine first whitewater river. My friend took me over for the trip with my playboat and said - just follow me, you should be fine. Continous waves, pushing water and literally paddlers all around you sometimes waiting in the queue to run the rapid but sometimes running it alongside you and bumping in the middle of the way, that is sometimes Devils. But it has some great rapids too, the window, papiernia and stairs are the most reconized ones being big, intense and for stairs - technical rapid. There is one more that only the bravest will run which is called bloody hand. Gives you twinkles? It is not spectacular, nor very technical. It is just pushy and edgy and rocks that get covered by water few times a year, despite being round - they will work like sand paper for your skin. Would you dare? On the end of the day you can see a lot of people walking around with fresh bandages over hands showing what bloody hand has done to them.


Very unique thing during the weekend to be remembered is that you don’t have to worry about the shuttle! You simple get to the take out, walk to the train station where every 30 minutes comes a local train ready to bring hundreds of kayaks and kayakers to the middle or upper section to enjoy as many runs possible! 


During the whole weekend, numerous events are taking a place including slalom, whitewater race and rafting all of them happening in the upper part of the kayak course. At the same time, Devils Extreme Race takes a part that has welcomed 83 paddlers this year in two main events.


The race kicks off with a sprint where each paddler goes on their own down 1.5km trail through Papiernia and The Window finishing just above the Bloody Hand. The top 32 competitors make it to the next round of kayak cross which takes place at the most technical rapid of the river called the stairs. This year it didn’t disappoint providing a huge show to the crowd as always. Matthias Weger snatched the win before Janosch Plathner and Andi Brunner in Men's category while in Women Nouria Newman took a win followed by Martina Rossi and Elena Luciotti. 


The second race is over 7km through the whole river section where all paddlers start from below the dam and go through the racing course at the top, lakes in the middle, papiernia and towards the window. If you are in the top 20 during the race you pass the checkpoint and continue down to the finish line. In this round fastest was Matthias Weger followed by Michele Ramaza and Janosch Plathner. In women, Nouria Newman came first followed by Lucie Součková and Elena Luciotti. 







Second part of the day is at least as important as first one during the Devils Extreme Race where paddlers gather to share the stories of the day, make plans for upcoming year and enjoy Czech traditional beverage dancing to live music or DJs. This year the part was led by incredible bands The Closing Date and Move Breakers which definitely everybody is looking forward to seeing again next year. During the party, winners were announced with the overall winner for the whole event being Matthias Weger in Men, Nouria Newman in Women, Lucie Součková in K1JW and Huw Butterworth in K1JM.



It was a great event and I hope to come back next year! In the meantime, enjoy the short video from paddling:




Is it Selfish to Play Outside During the COVID-19 Pandemic? by Ben Osborne

"COVID-19 has taken over the news streams, our personal lives, and the lives of everyone around us. As outdoor enthusiasts, we have a pre-programmed response: Go get some fresh air and get away from it all. It seems harmless—a solo bike ride or ski tour won’t harm anyone and should only boost our immune systems and keep us mentally healthy.
But what happens if things go wrong?
Most of the sports we partake in—biking, skiing, climbing, hiking, and more—are dangerous on numerous levels. This may be due to their high intensity, remoteness, or a combination of the two. Any health complication undoubtedly puts a burden on our healthcare system, and with hospitals in the coming days likely to see far more traffic, putting yourself at risk could be considered an unnecessary risk.
There’s plenty of folks telling you to get outside—but it’s important to modify how you participate in these activities during a time like this.
In Italy, the situation is far worse than in most places. So bad that hospitals eventually became overcrowded to the point that “ventilators became like gold” according to Dr. Daniele Macchini, an Italian physician who published a long Facebook post about her working conditions. Patients were unable to be taken care of, and Italy quickly became the epicentre for the virus.
For many people in British Columbia, as the snow melts away in the valley and ski resorts shut down due to the spread of the virus, biking seems like a safe escape to clear your mind—but is that in the best interest of the health system?
A recent study conducted by the Enduro World Series clearly demonstrates the dangers of riding a bike—even for professionals. While most injuries are minor, is your broken clavicle an unnecessary burden on your local hospital’s already dire situation?
For the biking mecca of Squamish, it is. The local hospital has already reached out to the SORCA, expressing the fact that they “do not have the capacity to deal with mountain bike-related injuries”, and specifically requested that the local trails association spread the word.
For ski touring, a similar situation arises—if you get into trouble, the burden falls on search and rescue, your local hospital, and eventually rest of your community. Is that worth it?
The pull of social media to get outside is very real—but at what cost?
There’s nothing wrong with getting out, getting some fresh air, and getting some exercise. In fact, it will be vital during this time of social separation and for some, quarantine. The most important thing is taking care of yourself, and those close to you.
But, in the age of social media, as athletes, influencers, and brands set the example urging their followers to get out and self-distance, it’s important to emphasize playing within your own ability more than ever. Consider what types of activities you choose to do, and how you do them. Because when things go wrong, they could have an effect on someone who is in much worse shape than you. Your surroundings are more important than ever, and now is the time to pay attention. —ML"

I think it is a very good article as it is very important to approach those things responsibly these days. Whatever activity you take - make sure you stay within you abilities. Stay active - at home or outside but not at the cost of others. ~Bartosz