The Dordogne Intégrale As Seen by Mark Slater and Richard Gratzei
On Saturday 27 May the 8th edition of the Dordogne Intégrale race will take place. This event is a 130km race on the Dordogne River, one of the most beautiful rivers in Europe. Paddlers from all over have this race marked in their calendar since its announcement and are all planning a trip to the Dordogne to participate. Last year, Mark Slater and Richard Gratzei came from England and Austria specially for the race. They sat down and shared with us their feelings about their participation in 2016’s Dordogne Intégrale.
It was your first participation at the Dordogne Intégrale last year. What memories do you have of that race?
Mark: Yes, it was my first time entering the race and it was a great experience with a friendly and laid back vibe.
Richard: I remember the beautiful landscapes that we were lucky enough to see throughout the course of the race. The people involved were really nice and the hospitality was perfect! It was such a great paddle experience. My goal was to finish the race without taking any breaks. I was well-equipped with food and drink on my SUPSKIN board, so this seemed feasible. I managed to do it pretty much according to plan, even though the last 20 km were a little bit slower, I must admit.
How did you find it organisation-wise?
Mark: It was a very well run event with everything running super smoothly. There was a pasta party the night before the event and a shuttle bus to the camping area, well manned checkpoints with water and a few snacks durring the event, without forgetting the big party after the event with drinks and amazing food being served.
Richard: The organisational side of things was really great. Everything was well planned out, we were kept very well informed and the communication efforts were hugely successful. The prizes awarded during the closing ceremony were the most unique I’ve ever seen and it really made me smile… perhaps the eccentricity of it all is a typicaly French thing.
The race is one of the longest-standing in SUP. Tell us a bit about how you managed to get through those 130 kilometres.
Mark: There was quite a good flow of water on the river and this coupled with the stunning sceenery made the paddle itself not too bad.
Richard: It is all in your mind, and you really need to be prepared. You have to know your body, what to eat , what to drink, when to do it etc. Paddling is not the most difficult. 11 City legend Ike Frans’ secret is that you start out by paddling just 10km. Then you move on to the next 10. Then the next 10. And all of a sudden, you’ve reached 100km. Withi this method, you’ll soon find yourself very close to the finish line.
Do you have any anecdotes you can tell us from last year?
Mark: No anecdotes in particular, it was all just one big amazing and fun experience.
Richard: The most impressive thing was seeing Florent Dode balancing his 23-wide 3bay Flatwater in the river, almost like a dancer. Equally impressive was seeing Mark Slater hammer his “inflatable Banana” through the waves while having a great time.
Do you plan to do it again this year or in the future?
Mark: I can’t get this year, but I would love to try and get over again, maybe if a group of us came over in a van would be great fun, and could bring hard boards too, as last year I flew over, so just brought an inflatable to make travelling easier.
Richard: Yes , I plan to do it again this year in fact. I am happy to be there with my 3bay teammates, but also to paddle with all the other interesting participants. I get the feeling that the Dordogne Intégrale is becoming more and more international. There are also two or three more Austrians coming this year.
Would you recommend this race to everybody?
Mark: It’s a great and safe event to do for anyone wanting to push themselves with a longish edurance paddle.
Richard: Yes, there is a lot to see, and you have between 10 and 14 hours of great paddling fun.
You can find more information about the race and register on the official website