A light rain filled the air the night before the 2016 Duncan-Williams Dragon Boat Races. The boat races, in which hundreds of Memphians take to the river to row their hearts out for their organizations, are becoming an annual tradition at Mud Island River Park. Every year for the last five years, Duncan-Williams has partnered with a different non-profit organization to put on the event, helping fundraise and bring greater awareness to their cause. This year’s partner was St. Jude.
When the sun rose the following day, the rain had thankfully passed. Only a few clouds lingered in the sky, and the temperature slowly climbed to a delightful 80 degrees - a perfect day for a boat race and an emerging Memphis tradition.
The ~30 competing dragon boat teams consisted of an array of local and national businesses with branches in the Memphis area. Teams were made up of twenty paddlers and a drummer to keep the stroke rhythm. In addition, a coxswain, the steersperson of the boat, was provided to each team by the company running the races, Pan Am.
In order to prepare for the event, teams were allowed one on-the-water practice during the week before the race. Afterward, they were placed into one of ten heats. The heats consisted of three teams, all racing to put up their best time in order to be placed into the best division possible. With over thirty teams competing in this year’s event, the races started early, roughly two hours after sunrise.
This year’s event was marked by an amazing sense of community and camaraderie felt throughout Mud Island. For instance, teams created chants to help give them the edge during each race. In addition they sported team shirts with creative designs in order to help friends and family know whom to root for during this fast paced event. When teams weren’t rowing, they were enjoying the beautiful day by playing catch, listening to live music, or enjoying a variety of food trucks located near the team tents.
After each team had raced once, they were placed into different divisions based on their race times. Following a second qualifying race, teams moved on to either the runner-up race or the championship race of their division.
In Division A, the championship race came down to four teams, which just happened to each represent a different local CrossFit gym within the Memphis area! CrossFit Hit and Run, the reigning champions, were up against tough competition when they faced Team Faction, Crossfit Penance, and Circle G Rowers (Battle Axe CrossFit).
The finals were a close race, but in the end your downtown CrossFit team - CrossFit Hit and Run located on South Main, pulled out a victory for the second year in a row! In total, the event raised over $65K for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. We can't wait for next year's event!
For more information on Pan Am or the event go here.