After racing her paddleboard to place first in a 2 1⁄2 -mile race in Saturday’s Paddle Battle Long Island in Riverhead, Amy Linnen said she relished the thrill of the competition.
“I had nothing in my life to look forward to, nothing to compete in,” said Linnen, 35, of Riverhead, a retired professional track and field athlete who teaches physical education at Mount Sinai Middle School. “And for me, [paddleboarding] gave me another sense of competition and exercise, and it filled that void of being part of a community and working towards goals.”
Proceeds from the fifth annual event, which organizers said drew 150 paddleboarders and kayakers to the cool waters of the Peconic River, went to the nonprofit United Way of Long Island’s VetsBuild program and the Long Island Aquarium in Riverhead.
Racers started out strong in the 2 1⁄2- , 5- and 12-mile races, some slipping off their boards at various points, others chugging tiredly at the finish line after winning by a nose.
“It’s an amazing community of paddlers of all shapes and sizes,” said Ann Welker, 54, of Southampton who also competed. “We get to see each other at these races, and for some of us, it’s the only time we get to see each other.”
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