Saturday, September 21, 2013

A Busy September: Part III!

Kristen says...

Well, I meant to write this last weekend, but this weekend will have to it says in the title, September has been busy! :)

Last weekend we broke "tradition" and actually did something sporty while in Russia...well, actually, last weekend was the culmination of a series of sporty events that began the week before but...
Getting ready to be athletic...
To commemorate the 1-year anniversary of the APEC conference in Vladivostok, a Dragon Boat race was planned, to include both teams to represent local businesses as well as foreign consulates, etc.

What is a Dragon Boat race, you ask?

It's basically a fast race in a canoe-like boat that has a dragon's head and tail...if Wikipedia is to be believed (blech) the idea was originally Chinese (of course, what wasn't?) but has now spread all over the world. Various family members have commented on recently seeing Dragon Boats in different parts of the US and the world. If you Google it there are some fun videos on the Internet that you can watch to get a better idea.

There are apparently varying ways to row in a Dragon Boat, and the Russians have (not surprisingly) come up with their own way...which seems to be pretty effective. The local team (the Vladivostok Tigers) have been World Champions more than once in the past few years, according to one semi-pro Dragon Boater who works at the Consulate.
Tigers of Vladivostok, Sports Club
Why was a Dragon Boat race planned to commemorate APEC, you ask?

No idea.

But anyway, it was organized, and our Consulate was invited to participate.

So we did!

We had the option to organize a 10-man team, a 10-woman team, and/or a 10-person team, made up of 6 men and 4 women. We couldn't find 10 interested women, but we had enough to participate in the 10-man and 10-person competitions.

Originally I wasn't going to participate (not for any reason, I just wasn't asked) but somebody (Chris) let it get around that I'd rowed crew in college (which is true, for one semester in my sophomore year...I would probably have continued but I knew I was going to have to miss an entire season while I studied abroad in London so had to give it up) and I was recruited...

Drake University crew member 2003! :) / 2013 Consulate Team...funny

Of course, Dragon Boating is much different than rowing crew, but the contest is at least held at a place that looked familiar...
Note the unadorned dragon boats in the front and the image of the crew team on the side of the building.
We had practices three times before the actual event, with between 8 and 12 people in the boat depending on who showed no time did we actually practice with the boat exactly as it was for the race, so I took pictures of the trophies before the race thinking that this would be the only shot I'd get of the hardware.

The all-male team was up first:
Chris is in the middle, with the sunglasses.
And then my mixed-gender team was second:
I'm in the back, on the far side of the boat with the pony tail.
The race was *only* 200 meters in Novik bay off of Russky Island (maybe a 20-minute drive in good traffic from our house, and crossing the new gorgeous bridges) but let me tell you, 200 meters of Dragon Boat racing is exhausting, especially when you've only practiced two or three times.

Still, believe it or not, both teams won their heat! It was great!

Even better, when it came time to hand out the trophies, we were awarded first place of the Consular teams! :)
The top of our trophy
Even, even better, we also got medals...given to us by Ivan Shtyl, 2013 sprint canoe bronze medalist at the London Games! :)
I love Chris' face in this picture

 He was nice enough to pose with our team for a photo:
 and sign medals for those who wanted it:
 Winning is fun! :)
If you're interested in seeing the complete scores or other pictures you can click here or here for two local newspapers' coverage of the event.

Of course, being the loving wife I am I can't help but share the other fun event of the day...while they were tallying the results of the Dragon Boat races they offered the chance for anyone who wanted to participate in a kayak race...I had already changed my clothes (you get remarkably wet during Dragon Boat competition) but Chris was game:
 Unfortunately his kayak wasn't, and he got a little wet... :)
 However, a "fishing" kayak was quickly procured for him, and he smilingly participated in the race.
 He did a nice job and didn't finish last in his heat! :)
 Other highlights of the day included seeing this gigantic specimen of sea life:
Who knew there were jellyfish in Russia?!
The business of life has continued into this past week, when I started volunteer teaching 2 days a week at a local school, providing 6th grade English lessons for the lone American student and cultural studies (social studies) for some Korean fourth graders. It's heaven.

We also celebrated International Talk Like a Pirate Day at the Consulate this past week:
We are nothing if not goofy! :)
Booty for those willing to dress or talk "Like a Pirate"

The business continues this week...September 29 is "Tiger Day" in Vladivostok! :)


  1. I enjoy following your adventures. You know how to join in and have fun. Karen in OR

  2. Exciting times! Great pictures and stories. A unique and memorable experience to be sure :-)


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