One month to go – big training weekend

Alzar School | 05.04.15

With just over a month to go for my Paddle for Leaders challenge, I needed to get some real training miles in this weekend.  Years ago, I trained to run a marathon, and I’ve been modeling my paddling workouts off the routine I used then, which called for short to mid-length workouts during the week (when the daily schedule here makes it tough to get on the water) and long sessions on the weekend.  You can see more about the entire Paddle for Leaders effort here.

Kristin and I started by paddling the last section of river that we had never done before, from Smylie Lane Bridge to Tamarack Falls, where the main portion of Cascade Reservoir begins.  We spent a little over 2.5 hours continuously paddling this lowest reach of river.  We saw a bald eagle fly off with a fish and saw dozens of ducks.


Today, I set out from the south end of Cascade Reservoir, to see if I could make it to a prominent island (Sugarloaf) that is visible from the highway.  Having reached the island, I called an audible and continued paddling north, making it all the way to our take-out yesterday.  Paddling entirely on the lake, for almost 15 miles (just over 4 hours) was a push, especially in a whitewater kayak (Fun Runner 70).  I’m nervous about the next time I take on the whole lake crossing, as it will be after 23+ miles on the Upper North Fork Payette, and when I finish crossing the lake, I will still have another 23+ miles to go.



It feels really satisfying to train for this effort, and I am incredibly excited to raise scholarship funds for the teenagers who will join us here at Alzar School.  I know that they are challenged daily here at the school, and that challenge has a transformative effect on their lives.  They leave more confident, more ready to step up to make their communities better places.

One of the developments this week that really helped fuel my motivation to train was learning that two of our alumni (Alec and Lizzy) had set up their own Paddle for Leaders challenges.  They are working to raise funds for our scholarship program too, wanting to “pay it forward.”  We also received a major donation from my aunt, Jean Bierle, who launched our first ever scholarship program, the Jean Bierle Scholarship Initiative, which was what made it possible for Chilean students to begin joining our programs in 2008.  We just pushed past $40,000 raised, with our goal being $100,000.

Will you join the effort by pledging your support?  You can help develop the next generation of community leaders.

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On May 7, 2015, I will paddle from the Shore Lodge in McCall to Smith’s Ferry… in 24 hours.  The journey will be just over 60 miles, taking about 20 hours.  In doing so, we hope to raise a total of $100,000 for student scholarships.  See more at 

– Sean Bierle