Holmes wins Bluz Cruz race for the seventh time

Published 8:00 am Sunday, April 22, 2018

They say excellence is when you’re able to combine success with consistency, and no one exemplifies that quite as well as Elmore Holmes, who won the Bluz Cruz kayaking race for the seventh time on Saturday morning.

Holmes was able to set himself apart from the pack, finishing with a time of 1 hour, 57 minutes and 36 seconds, and had what seemed like leagues of space between him and the other competitors as he crossed the finish line.

“I was definitely glad to be done,” Holmes said. “It was a good test today. The breeze was blowing the whole way down. I didn’t think it was too bad most of the time, just hard enough to be kind of loud in my ears and that plays with your mind a little bit.”

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Holmes, who lives in Memphis, said the last couple of miles on the 22-mile route along the Mississippi River and Yazoo Diversion Canal were the toughest.

“When there’s a wind blowing upstream it tends to push those waves up and make the water rough, so I felt like I was just trying to stay upright until I got into the more protected water in the Yazoo,” Holmes said. “It was fun. When I got to the finish, I was satisfied with how I did and what type of effort I put in.”

David Dupree of Rayville, La., came in second place, and Karen Kesseling of Hot Springs, Ark. finished first among the women competing. She had a similar experience with the conditions on the river, and also noted that the higher water level in the river did add some speed to the race.

“It was really a great race,” Kesseling said. “There were headwinds the whole way. In the end coming in it was brutal. The waves were unreal, but once I got through them I thought ‘OK, I can make this, I can do this,’ and I prayed I wouldn’t tip over the whole time.”

Kesseling came in first among the women last year as well, and said she didn’t realize she was leading this time until her friends told her after the race.

“It was awesome,” Kesseling said. “My competition was steeper this year.”

Holmes had plenty of praise for the event and everyone who helped put it on.

“This is just a good event in every way. I enjoy the people accompanying us, and this section of the river is a really beautiful section,” Holmes said.

The sheer amount of effort and dedication that it takes to make Bluz Cruz an annual race impressed Holmes.

“I just like the people who put on this event,” Holmes said. “Fourteen years is starting to become a pretty long time to put on a canoe and kayak race. They’re not easy events to put on and these people make it happen every year, they put a lot of energy into it, it’s important to them to keep it going, and I appreciate that.”