Supconnect Contributor, Haywood Newkirk, covers the 2015 Cold Stroke Classic in North Carolina.
Words by Haywood Newkirk
WRIGHTSVILLE BEACH, North Carolina - Jeffrey and Catherine Nathan, founders of Coastal Urge, started the race scene in the Carolina's with the Cold Stroke Classic. This year, the 7th Edition of the Cold Stroke reminded us why we all love this event. Why would more than 100 participants show up to race in 50/40/20 (water temp/air temp/wind speed) conditions? Because the Cold Stroke is not about podiums and sponsors, it's about community and getting out on the water.
Friday Night registration was held at the new Coastal Urge location on Eastwood Road, just before the Wrightsville Beach Bridge. Bar-B-Que and cold beverages were served to all and a local Bluegrass Band provided the sounds. The Saturday Morning race was held at the always hospitable Blockade Runner Hotel with the sound side serving as the starting point for all of the races.
The Rec Race consisted of one 3.5 mile lap around Harbor Island. Racers dealt with head on current or wind for 2.5 miles of the race, making for some challenging conditions, even over this shorter distance. Greg Lew was the overall winner in the Rec Race (and 14 Men's); Bryan Wisdom was first in the 12-6 Men's; Christy Turner was first in the 12-6 Women's; and Lindsey Lynsky won the Prone Division. Jenna Blackburn, however, stole the show in the Rec Race. This 12 year old local charger not only won the 14 and under division, but if she had competed in the Women's Division, she would have won that as well.
The Elite Race consisted of two laps around Harbor Island (7 miles). Racers dealt with the same head on current or wind for 2/3 of the race. In the Men's overall, Corey Taylor beat fellow Charlestonian, Jeremy Whitted, in a photo finish. Local standout April Zilg put in another commanding performance, winning the Women's Division by more than 6 minutes. Mark Nelson carried the flag for the Annapolis crew winning the 12-6 Men's. Infinity Team Rider Chris Hill finished strong, overtaking Don Alderman and James Bain in the last mile of a very competitive prone division.
I have made some good friends at this race and this weekend was no exception. With crews in town from Annapolis and Charleston, you can't help but have a good time. The Cold Stroke may not be the biggest race in the Carolina's, but those of us that take part leave with a smile on our face and memories to keep. Aloha Y'all