TRAINING FOR THE DORDOGNE INTÉGRALE, A 130-KILOMETRE STAND-UP PADDLE RACE

Anne Sophie, Swimwear Product Manager at Tribord in Hendaye is a regular SUP paddler. This year, she has set herself an incredible challenge: complete the 130-kilometre "Dordogne Intégrale" race when the most she had ever paddled was 20 kilometres.
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This extreme race exclusively for craft propelled by a paddle and human strength is already in its eighth year. It links 3 departments: Corrèze, Lot and Dordogne and is a chance for the best French and foreign athletes, as well as a few novices and inexperienced paddlers, to meet, confront and compete in a one-of-a-kind high-level river challenge. 350 athletes and amateurs are expected to compete in this great sporting and social event. This long-distance canoe, kayak and stand-up paddle race is unique in France and remains one of the few events of its kind in Europe.

Anne-Sophie tells us all the stages of her preparation and training for this incredible experience that she will share with the teams of the Itiwit brand.

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#1 Preparation for the Dordogne Intégrale on an SUP

"I am fortunate enough to rub shoulders with athletes from all backgrounds, some of whom have become my friends. Giuliana, my Brazilian friend, is an amazing swimmer! She crossed the Channel as part of a relay team and does long-distance training at sea. She was the one who advised me not to train to music, "the training must be difficult", she told me. She wasn't wrong there (haha), so I followed her precious advice in more than one sense. And as for Guénolé, he ran the 100 km de Millau! He was trained for this challenge by one of the world's best coaches and gave me an invaluable tip: to force myself to drink every 15 minutes. Stéphane, my friend from Martinique whom I have known since I was a student, took part in the Olympic Games in Turin! He strongly encouraged me to keep up my muscle-building exercises and reproduce the paddling movements at home, using resistance bands, to be able to train every day. 

And then there is Irwin, of course, my life partner as well as training partner, whose steely determination I admire every day! Every time I go out on the board he tries to help me improve my paddling technique, which is probably my biggest area of improvement in my stand up paddle practice!"

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#2 SUP equipment used to paddle 130 kilometres

My board is an ITIWIT Explorace inflatable stand-up paddle board, 12′6 long and 29″ wide. I have done all my training with this board and I am more than happy with it. It has a good mix of responsiveness and comfort. I've got an ITIWIT adjustable carbon fibre paddle—lightweight and very stable in the water—and another detachable spare with me, just in case! I wear an ITIWIT Wairgo Hydra buoyancy vest, which inflates on demand and features a water bladder. Finally, for the race, I intend to start in a TRIBORD 2 mm neoprene longjane, particularly to get past the rapids present in the first 30 kilometres, then I think I will change halfway into a more lightweight outfit—leggings and a tank top—and a cap to protect myself from the sun!

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#3 70-kilometre session, half a Dordogne Intégrale!

This was the third and last long-distance trip that I wanted to do as part of my training. 70 is quite an achievement! It's a bit like a Dordogne half marathon. 

But you can't just pull 70k out of thin air, it requires a certain amount of logistics: leaving a car at the finish point, carrying enough food and drink, keeping an eye on the tides, the wind but also the sunrise and sunset, because we were preparing to paddle for at least 9 hours! The day before, Irwin prepared a training plan by calculating our estimated speed according to the current and more importantly the counter-current! His calculations proved very accurate and allowed us to prepare ourselves psychologically. Personally, I was not disappointed! 11 hours of paddling, including 4 against the current, brilliant sunshine, passing under the Dax and Bayonne bridges, and finally a heroic finish at La Barre beach in Anglet as our reward!!! This memorable training session—an emotional and physical roller coaster—will stay with me for a long time... and especially when I am paddling on the Dordogne on 27 May.

Acknowledgements

A big thank you to Marine Labbé and her blog "notre planète bleue" [our blue planet] who kindly allowed us to use her interview of Anne-Sophie to write this article. We will be sure to add an account of Anne-Sophie's experience once she has completed her challenge to finish the Dordogne Intégrale 2017 solo on 27 May...
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