I completed the Glagla race on an Itiwit 12'6 inflatable sup

The Glagla Race is one of the stages of the Alpine Lakes Tour, which visits the most beautiful spots in the Alps. It takes place on Lake Annecy.

glagla race inflatable SUP

The Glagla Race is one of the stages of the Alpine Lakes Tour, which visits the most beautiful spots in the Alps. It takes place on Lake Annecy and every year attracts paddlers from around the world. On 20 January 2018, 494 stand-up paddleboards set off from the start point in 5°C water and in temperamental weather alternating between snow, rain, and wind. Two Itiwit ambassadors (Anaïs from the Annemasse Decathlon store and Céline from the Annecy store) took part with their 12'6 inflatable SUPs. Céline is going to tell us about her experience of this extraordinary race.

First step: kitting up

First of all, I needed to find some warm, waterproof and comfortable equipment to paddle in.

Given the choppy conditions and therefore the high risk of falling in, I went for an Olaïan 4/3 mm neoprene surfing wetsuit, neoprene boots and waterproof socks. To give myself plenty of grip and manoeuvrability, I took a little pair of non-watertight gloves (the only part of me that was cold).

And of course the  Itiwit Wairgo Hydra buoyancy aid to keep me safe if necessary and help me stay hydrated easily during the race....

alpine race tour stand up paddle
inflatable race sup alpine lake

Preparation before the race

09:00, arrival at the race site. The main lake was very rough, fortunately the water was calmer in Talloires bay. The sky is overcast, there is no precipitation but the air is very cool. I collect my bib and go to prepare my equipment.

I inflate my Itiwit Explorace 12'6-29" SUP, adjust my 500 carbon fibre paddle and I'm ready. I chose this width of board rather than the 26" because it will be more stable on the choppy water and I will be able to paddle properly and keep my balance.

There are many participants already present, with the majority of them on 12'6 or 14' rigid boards. There are a serious number of competitors here, it's going to be heavy going on the water.

And then, to my surprise: I bump into some Australian friends that I had previously met at the Bilbao race last summer. In much chillier surroundings this time!

And we're off for the 6-kilometre sprint!

Last briefing, last recce of the course. Mandatory equipment check: buoyancy aid, water, sugary snacks, survival blanket, leash, everything is there.

We warm up quickly on land, I wet the back of my neck and get on the water. Objective number 1: DO NOT FALL INTO THE ICE COLD WATER. A bit of back and forth to finish warming up. I slowly head to the starting line.

10:30, the air horn sounds and we're off, and at great speed. The best ones are already out in front, they are paddling crazily fast! I see the first falls (poor things), and I paddle towards the first buoy along the bay.

I now cross the lake, there is a lot of wind, I often paddle on the same side and everything is going well, I'm at a good pace.

After 3 km, the long- and short-distance races separate. I go back into the bay while the others head to Menthon-Saint-Bernard. I cross the lake in the other direction, the side wind is strong, almost 2 km to go, paddling on the same side to keep straight. It stings but I climb up the rankings a couple of places.

The last buoy then we paddle parallel to the shore, the spectators are there and are cheering us on. And then I finish in 52 minutes for 6 km, which averages out at 7 km/h, not bad!.

sup glagla race
finisher gla gla race SUP

I am the first female finisher on an inflatable SUP!

I finished as the fastest female on a 12'6 inflatable and 37th out of the 134 participants of the short-distance race (6 kilometers).

I'm so proud of myself, I managed to beat a lot of people, including some on rigid stand-up paddleboards, with my inflatable board.

And also, it's not easy to paddle in a 4/3 mm surfing wetsuit, it really slows down your movements and it took more effort than when my shoulders are free. I'll have to find something else to wear for my next winter race, that's for sure!

Anaïs from Decathlon Annemasse was also a strong paddler, she finished 70th with a time of 1:00 on her inflatable SUP.

This race is really surreal: paddling in water that cold with the snow-capped mountains as a backdrop is not something that happens every day.