At Cali Paddler, we have been fortunate to attend a wonderful share of races and can praise many a race day experience, (and equally so, to complain about a few others). So when we get the chance to participate in one of our favorite races, not once, but multiple times each year, we are very excited. And so we would like to shine a light on that race, which to us is a model for race organizers and directors throughout California to model after when it comes to a grass-roots and community oriented paddle race. A day that supports everyone from the family of paddlers to the elite. That has a race course and craft division for everyone. And that continually listens to feedback from paddlers to try and make it better. What are we referring to? The SundayX3 Race Series.
The SundayX3 Race series, also known as SundaySundaySunday, is entering its 5th summer. A three part summer series of races that has focused on the paddlers and their wants and needs vs. big corporate direction. The result is a family friendly, competitive, and well-organized race that keeps on getting better each year.
Community - At Cali Paddler, Community is one of our sacred pillars (Conservation and Connection are the other two for those not sure). The feeling of camaraderie, despite paddling hard to do well, is why we love this sport. The race creators and the volunteer staff is made up of paddlers who ‘get it’. They know how race morning check-in needs to be organized, and how the maps need to be clearly explained before the start. They also understand that our community is made up of the really fast folks...and then the rest of us. So they make sure every finisher is cheered over the loudspeaker (many times by name) and often greeted with a paddle tunnel.
Location - While we wish this race was closer to more paddlers in California, the venue is perfect. Protected bay with clean sand and palm trees. Ample and close parking. Great spectating venue and course designs. And, as of last year, an option for a partial ocean course for those who want a little motion in their course.
Food - It is included! And yah, it’s been really good too. And there is a coffee cart in the morning too.
Raffle Prizes - Your race entry is your ticket, and we see tons of folks walk away with great gifts, like portable speakers from Kicker Audio, SUP Pockets, Paddles and more.
Environmental - a beach combing by the staff follows the last of the tents getting packed away to ensure the beach is clean. They have always welcomed Cali Paddler blue buckets to be present to capture all recyclable items. And most impressive? The power for the PA system and computers are provided by solar power (check out SoulrEnergy)!
Competition - The beauty of a series and consistent race distance is you can compare yourself to others over the course of the summer as well as judge your own improvement. And the level of folks who have come to this race over the years is pretty impressive in the prone and SUP categories. A quick search of “Sunday x3” at https://paddleguru.com/races past races will show you all the great names that have done Sunday. But let’s just say, when the winning times are sub 60minutes for a full 10k, you will have some serious pride if you make the podium.
And there is the fun factor - Our favorite story of this race, was 2017 where some parents who paddled asked about squeezing in a little kiddo race in between the main distance events. The race organizers made it happen, without delaying any races mind you, and put it over the loud speaker that any of the little ones who wanted to race were welcome to head to the water for a special race "just for them'. Let me tell you, watching 20 little ones paddle 100 yards, ziz-zagging on SUPs and prones, with dozens adults creating a village of support and safety perimeter in 3 feet of water and cheering loud enough to give you chills is enough to make the pros jealous.
Over the years…this was a great race and series to start, but each year they have improved it, listened to feedback from the community, and done their best to make it evolve, innovate and improve. A little history of the event and its growth:
- Lots of race options - .5mile kids, 1.5mile, 5mile, 10mile offerings so everyone could find ‘their’ distance.
- Always included "Prone" category. Too often overlooked.
- 10k, 5k, 3k and 1k race options now offered.
- Added Megladon "Big Board Battle" multi-person SUP Races
- Added Elite class option with prize purse.
- Collaborated with SurvivorBeachSUP benefit to support Moores Cancer Center
- Inflatable board races i2k with provided boards.
- Free 10k entry in third race to winners from first two.
- Series point system to award overall series winners in addition to individual day winners.
- A free little kids (tiny grom) race with trinkets and parents alongside keeping the kids from going off course.
- Added in ocean course option for 10k.
- Added Surfski and Outrigger (OC2/OC2) craft divisions!
- and…??? (Stay tuned to find out!)
It can't be all perfect. While the race is great, you can still expect some of the normal wakes in the water we face in the scene. When a race division/category is not complete (minimum 3 entries as stated on the website), as other races do, awards may not be given. That said, even in those situations I have seen competitors still get called up for their glory pic and cheers and trinket. This might not always be the case, but I have seen the race organizers try to make this effort multiple times. Plus, if its really important, get your friends to race. The solution is easy. :)
I have also seen one time where the race course was not followed to a tee by the mid and back of the pack, as little by little paddlers drift to a straight line instead of around specified pylons. But shy of having official boats at every inch of the course, this comes down to us as paddlers and the honor system.
At the end of the day, when the last of the awards is handed out, the raffle prizes are presented, and the paddle craft are loaded on the car roofs, you will likely see folks packing up their gear with giant smiles. Paddle friends talking trash to their buddies saying “you better watch out I will get you at the next one”. And the final few race organizers, doing one last sweep of the beach to make sure nobody has left anything, or anyone behind. See you at the next SundayX3 race. And hopefully many other grass-roots races series that mesh community and competition so well.
- Race Website - http://sundaysundaysundayraces.com
- Registration - https://paddleguru.com/races/SundaySundaySundayRaceSeries32018/
- DISCOUNT CODE: CALIPADDLER for $5.00 off registration.