Holmes repeats as BluzCruz winner

Published 1:08 am Sunday, April 12, 2015

GETTING GOING: Tim McCarley and daughter KK begin paddling as the race begins.

GETTING GOING: Tim McCarley and daughter KK begin paddling as the race begins.

Kayaker Elmore Holmes of Memphis, Tenn., outpaced the pack in Saturday’s 11th annual BluzCruz Canoe and Kayak race to take the trophy as the overall winner for the second consecutive year.

Holmes crossed the finish line in 2 hours, 7 minutes and 14 seconds, about six minutes longer than his winning time last year. Kata Dismukes, a native of Hungary who now lives in Memphis, was third overall and won the overall women’s kayak competition with a time of 2 hours, 10 minutes and 3 seconds.

The 22-mile race, which began at the Madison Parish, La., Port at Tallulah took kayakers and canoeists on a course on the Mississippi River and then back to City Front for the finish. Wayne Pratt, race co-organizer with Cliff Jeter, said 123 people in 79 boats participated in the event.

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“We’ve got people here from Memphis, South Carolina, Wisconsin and Minnesota. The youngest is 6 and the oldest is 75,” he said. “We had Boy Scouts from Troop 7 (from Vicksburg) camping out over night to watch the boats that were left here.”

FIRST PLACE: Elmore Holmes of Memphis, Tenn., finished first for the second consecutive year to win the eleventh annual BluzCruz race.

FIRST PLACE: Elmore Holmes of Memphis, Tenn., finished first for the second consecutive year to win the eleventh annual BluzCruz race.

The Warren County Sheriff’s Department had four deputies in two boats and Vicksburg Fire Department paramedics were also in boats for safety and to provide any calls for first aid.

Sheriff Martin Pace said there were no calls for assistance during the race.

The 6-year-old competitor was Jacob Porter of Meridian, who was part of a three-man canoe team that included his grandfather, Fred Porter, and father, Sam.

“This is our first time doing this in a canoe,” Fred Porter said as he stood on the riverbank. “We were invited by Wayne, so we’ve got three generations here today.”

Porter said he and his crew hadn’t been canoeing long, “but we’ve been involved in scouting for a long time. Sam and I are both Eagle Scouts. We’re going to give it a try.”

A father-son team of Philip Eide and his son Taylor, 11, from Jackson were getting their kayak ready to go a few feet from the landing. This was Philip’s fourth Cruz and Taylor’s second. Taylor said his cousin joined his father for two years.

“When he told me about it, I begged to go,” Taylor said.

Philip Eide said he enjoyed BluzCruz “because of the people you meet. It’s well-organized, and it’s a fun event.”

Next to the Eides, Denise Krause and her son, Alexander, 9, also of Jackson, were getting ready for their first race using a unique craft, a pedal kayak, which is powered by blades under the boat operated by pedals. Krause said they learned about the race from Eide.

“I wanted to wait until Alexander was old enough to do it and decided this year he was,” she said.

Another family team was Andre Pellerin and his 13-year-old triplet sons, Carson, Conrad and Peyton, who came from Breaux Bridge, La., to compete, finishing with a time of 2 hours, 15 minutes and 25 seconds.

“We’ve been competing as a team for three years,” Pellerin said as he watched his sons move their boat. “We do this all the time. When we leave here, we’re going to Austin (Texas) for training. We compete in races in eight states. We do it for the fun and the competition.

Saturday’s race started about 9:05 a.m. under clear skies with a 61-degree temperature and an 8 mph northeast wind.

Holmes and Dismukes both said the wind and choppy water made handling the course difficult.

“I think the river was better last year,” said Holmes, who has been kayaking for 35 years. “The wind and the chop, I think were worse during the first part of the race, and then we ran into the wind coming back to the canal. I live in Memphis, so I kayak on the Mississippi all the time, and I’m used to the river.”

“I’ve got some blisters,” Dismukes said, showing the palm of her hand. “This is not a feminine sport.”

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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