350 KM Dordogne Intégrale Race: Dutch Enduro Paddler Janneke Smashes the Race!

The Dordogne Intégrale is a water race unlike any other. It is a true celebration of distance endurance racing, described as one of the most iconic enduro paddling events in Europe. The race is set on the Dordogne in the South of France, its is a race that tests the personal limits of all endurance paddlers.  Traditionally the race is 130 KM starting in Argentat, but this year to celebrate their 10 year anniversary the distance was increased to 350 KM, running through 4 different and uniquely different counties.

 187 paddle crafts finished the race, ranging from SUP solo, surfski to OC6, if you paddle, and like endurance, this is the race for you! This years female SUP solo winner was Dutch paddler Janneke Smits, no stranger to enduro racing, she talks to TotalSUP about her win on the race, and coming face to face with the The Mascaret, one of the most famous tidal bores in France!

Hi Janneke, congratulations on your win, you are the queen of endurance, how did it feel to win the 350 KM?

I was very happy with my result! I was sick for  5 days before the event. I was not sure if my energy-level was good enough to do the race. But with a great support-team on the land I had a very good race and my body did well!

So why 350 KM?

I did the “normal” Dordogne Integrale twice. Doing the DI350 was a new challenge!  This is a new race format, even more challenging than the normal Dordogne Integrale. I love new challenges. I like to see how far I can get, discover my own limits. I knew that with the mandatory stops during the nights. That it would will make it absolutely doable!

Can you describe your race?

Day 1 went well but just before Castelnaud I was completely surprised by Micheline Hauchecorne (the eventual 2nd place winner) because she was very close behind me. I took off as fast as possible after the mandatory stop and was hoping to get some more minutes but about 40 minutes before Mauzac there she was again! I thought, how is this possible, she is SO strong, unbelievable! We finished together just in time, but only because she pushed so hard. If I had to paddle on my own I would not have made it in time. So the credit for finishing on time will absolutely go to Micheline!

On day 2 I took off at exactly 06:00 hours. At the mandatory stop I heard that Micheline started 5 minutes later and that she had a longer stop. But I was not  sure if I could increase the time gap between us, this is just because of her will and power, but at a quick stop at KM point 300 I heard that the gap was  getting bigger. So that meant a little less pressure on me from that moment.

But then I experience something new! The Mascaret! (Tidal Bore) I had no idea bout this wave. Suddenly there it was, there was no escape. I was in the middle of the river and saw a wall of water coming towards me. It actually turned out ok in the end I just sat on my board and pointed my nose straight into the wave. Everything was completely fine. But when your only paddle in flatwater this can come as a big surprise! The flow of the Dordogne really helped me paddle, but not when we reached the tidal sections. The scenery of the Dordogne (especially day 1) is absolutely beautiful! I saw a beaver, which was really exciting!

Did you do any specific training programme for the 350 KM?

I did a few training days with +/- 30-50km on one day. Because of my available time this was the maximum I could do.  I did not change my taining to be honest, in general I don’t train very much. For me it’s enough to stay as healthy and fit as possible with different kinds of exercises like Cross-fit and fun paddle sessions.  During ultra long distance races it’s important that you are mentally strong and physically fit.

What strategy did you have for sleeping / paddling?

I had no strategy. I  just tried to get as much sleep as possible in the nights when you’re racing.  I had 2.5 hours of sleep on night one. Night two was better because I decided to start a little bit later on the final day because of the tide. That night I had about 7 hours of sleep. Doing things like an event like this gives me also a lot of energy. Because you’re out of your normal routine and making new, good memories.

How did your 2018 season go?

In 2018 I did only do some ultra longdistance “races”. The Dordogne Integrale (130 km) and the SUP11city non-stop + 5-day stage. (touring/not racing)
But my most notable “win” was setting a new (female) World Record for paddling 181,3 KM in July on Lac d’ Aiguebelette with the 3Bay family; Dode Florent, Mathieu Chevalier, Sebastien Le Meaux, Stephane Leblond and of course Patrice Remoiville!

What is next?

Probably the SUP 11 city in September. I think I will do the non-stop because I didn’t finished it last time because I wasn’t recovered enough after the world record attempt. And after that I will probably do the 5-day stage as a SUP clean-up tour.

Check out this years results! Interested in doing the 130 KM next year, follow the DI page on Facebook!

About the Author

Helen Trehoret

SUP, OC1, V6, Surfski ... and field hockey coaching, Helen is a busy British mother of two who lives in Bretagne, France with a passion for all things Ocean. Helen runs Barrachou SUP, a SUP tour company specialized in excursions around Bretagne and Scotland.

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