MISSOULA — Cyril Burguiere drives over two hours for the chance to compete in Missoula's annual stand up paddleboard race, the Windermere SUP Cup.
Lacy Gannon's drive is even longer.
They were rewarded on Sunday afternoon, taking home championship hardware in the elite division of the 4.2-mile competition along the swift-moving Clark Fork River.
Burguiere, a Whitefish grad who lives near Columbia Falls, clocked a time of 28 minutes, 2.57 seconds. Gannon, a Butte native living near Spokane, finished in 34:18.43.
Burguiere is the undisputed king of Missoula's SUP Cup, having won five of six years. The one year he didn't win he had a good excuse — he was living on the East Coast.
"I love this race," the former Montana State trackster said. "The vibe is always great. It's a really short race, so compared to other races, I'd consider it a sprint race because your heart rate is skyrocketing the entire time.
"But it's really fun because you're on the river. It's very unique because you're going very fast and there's a lot of movement in the water."
Burguiere's pace was just under 9 mph. His winning time was more than a minute faster than last year when he took the elite title in 29:10.55.
"The distance is such that we're dealing with under 30-minute times in elite, so we're going really hard because we're separated by 30 seconds to a minute," he offered. "One mistake, one fall, and you've lost like 20 seconds."
Burguiere started paddleboarding when he was 30 and he's been at it for almost nine years. He trains on the Flathead River and Hungry Horse Reservoir and his success has netted sponsorship. He's grateful Montana has a paddleboard race and credits Windermere Real Estate for keeping the event going.
Gannon finished second in the elite division two years ago and third last summer. On Sunday, the gym instructor who works out between two and three hours a day was all smiles.
"This race is amazing," she said. "Everybody is super inviting. We get to go up with the elite guys and follow their path or be with them and get some tips on paddle strokes and boards."
That said, Gannon describes the actual competition as tough. And just a little scary being on the river.
"It's mental because you've got the head wind, you've got the waves. I was in my head just to keep going hard," she offered. "The rec (division) is a fun cruise but if you want to get in the top three of elite you really have to push yourself."
Greg Findley of Bozeman won the men's recreational division in 32:21.41. Missoula's Tim McGill and Michael Lessard finished in second and third place, respectively. The rec division does not have the same board requirements as the elite division.
Ashley Nelson of Norris won the women's recreational division in 34:03.24. Her time was more than a minute faster than second-place Sara Murphy of Spokane Valley, Washington.