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The Call | A Red Paddle Co Film

Posted by Lydia Burdett

“Adventure starts at the edge of your comfort zone”.

It’s a quote framed on the wall of Jamie’s house. It wasn’t there before he undertook the Great Glen challenge, but it now hangs front and centre for all to see. The 92km endurance event had a profound effect on him and, as the UK sales manager for Red, a big impact on the team here at Red.

As an avid paddler, Jamie is no stranger to the world of short-distance SUP racing.  So, when he mentioned in passing one day that he had entered the Great Glen, it initially drew little attention from the team. As someone who is happier out of the spotlight, Jamie began preparing for this almighty challenge away from the hustle and bustle of the Red office. That was until it dawned on us just how far 92km is. What’s more, this was Jamie - not a professional athlete or paid team rider but a mere mortal. Just your regular guy attempting to take on something remarkable.

After a fair bit of arm-twisting and not-so-subtle hints, he allowed us to document his journey as he began preparing for this awesome, bucket-list event. As his story unfolded, we were ready (cameras and all) for the physical and mental hardship that would almost certainly be involved. What we weren’t prepared for was the third, often-overlooked dimension for taking on a challenge of this magnitude - the emotional connection. When you paddle for 92km you have a lot of time to ask yourself, why? Why do we paddle? We all have our reasons, and those reasons are as fluid as the water, they change day to day, year on year.

This is why we called the film ‘THE CALL’ – it is as much a film about a SUP challenge as it is a documentary about why we are drawn to the water and why we paddle.

Thinking of taking a long distance paddle of your own? Whether it's 10km or 100km, we caught up with Jamie to hear more about this almighty challenge.
After numerous film nights, screenings and Q&A sessions across the UK we were keen to learn more and glean some hints or tips to inspire those looking to take on a new adventure...

1. What is the Great Glen?

JH: The Great Glen is the canal that cuts across Scotland. Stretching from coast to coast it is some 92km in length and is made up of a number of canals that interlink huge lochs (lakes) – the largest of which is the world-famous Loch Ness which is just over 36km long and 2.7km wide. Framed by mountains reaching to the sky it is an awe-inspiring location on which the water conditions can change from glassy flat to ocean-like swells in a matter of minutes.

The Great Glen SUP Challenge takes place every year in September and participants can attempt the challenge in either the non-stop, one day event or over 2 days with an over-night stop in the central village of Fort Augustus.

2. Why were you drawn to the Great Glen in particular?

JH: It is the perfect blend between being a physical and mental challenge. Having done a fair few 10-15km races over the years, I knew the canal sections would feel familiar but when combined with the sheer size and length of the lochs it was a big step into the unknown for me. That was what drew me to the Great Glen – that feeling of not knowing exactly how I would feel or cope with the distances. The scenery is also spectacular!


3. Why did you choose the 14'0" Sport+?

JH: During the development of the new Sport+ range and MSL®800, we spoke a lot about helping paddlers take on longer distances. The boards are designed to open up the endurance side of the sport for anyone, so I wanted to really put it through its paces without the filter of work and design but purely from a personal experience. I wanted to see how it would match up to the task and if it could help give me the confidence to keep going no matter what the weather threw at me on the day.
At 28" wide the 14'0" Sport+ is wider than your average race board which gave me an amazing amount of confidence when in the middle of some of the lochs. The water is black and you suddenly feel very small. Knowing I had the speed and stability allowed me to put the power down even when my legs were tired, arms were burning, and back was cramping was a big help. If I had been on a narrower board I think I would have spent at more time in the water wasting energy and not feeling comfortable.
Of course, the other major benefit is that it is inflatable which not only made it easy to travel up to the event by air, it was also super easy to exit/enter the water at portages without the worry of damaging the board – especially when your arms are jelly.

4. What was your biggest learning in terms of kit and equipment?

JH: Practice in the kit combinations you might have to paddle in on the day.
On the lead up to the event I fell in to the trap of going out for shorter paddles (10-15km) with just a small camelback, no food and comfortable clothing for the summer conditions. It meant that come race day when the water was 4-5 degrees I was not prepared for the decisions in terms of combinations of layers but also had my food in my bag on the front of the board rather than easily/quickly accessible in chest pockets. Mixing and matching the kit you’ll wear on event day removes pre-start uncertainty whilst  easy access to food means you’re not over doing it straight out of the blocks.