Alcan Dragon Boat festival, Vancouver 

I am sitting in the Vancouver airport waiting to come home. It is the end of an amazing weekend and the one week anniversary of finding out about Bruce’s death. 

Out of town trips for teams are a time to bond, race in a different location, experience a different Dragon boat culture, get more race experience, race in different types of boats…in short, it is a time for pushing personal and team boundries. The Healers experienced all of these this past weekend. We dedicated the weekend to dear brother paddler Bruce. We Healers are a family and one of us is gone. 

On Friday evening we met at the race site to discuss the logistics of race weekend and to see the race course. With the exception of Ross, Brian and me, this was a new experience for the other Healers. We were expecting wet and cold big deal, Healers weather ! 

Saturday morning dawned with cloudy skies and a light drizzle. I ran alone that morning, no volunteers when I asked for a running buddy. We converged on the race site, found our tent and reconnected with our host team LifeScan. It was nice to be able to show up for a race without having to set up tent, etc. 

Ross gave us inspiration speech #102, at the same telling us how strong the competition was. The most difficult thing for us was the physical absence of Bruce. We bonded as a crew over the last 5 weeks through tough practices. Bruce was always there making jokes and getting more and more excited as race weekend drew near. 

We had our black ribbons on our PFDs to honor Bruce. Our first race was a seeding race and we came in 4th out of 8. We felt good about this start to our weekend. Our second race of the day was the Health Care Cup. We did not know anything about our competitors, but we all had the feeling that this race was ours to win. We said, ”This one is for Bruce.” It was natural, this was health care and we are Healers! We decided to shout his name rather than our usual “push, push” through the finish line. Every festival Ross talks to us about a “magical race” We felt this was going to be our “magical race”. From the call of “go” we shot out of the start line and no one caught up to us until we were a full boat length and more past the finish line! We were strong through out the race, our rate never faltered and we crossed the finish line shouting “Bruce, Bruce, Bruce”. When we could hear anything, it was the shouts of encouragement from our host team! They made a large sign with the words “Go Healers." This was magical and spiritual!! and inspirational!! This was as good as it gets! Bruce was in that boat. We received our trophy and were told there were no medals for this race. I protested to the race registrar and the guy who handed out the trophy. I felt is was important that we all got medals. The next day we were told that we would get our medals in the mail. In our final race of that day we placed 4th of 8 and went back to our hotels happy. We celebrated our victory with an all you can eat Korean BBQ. We think Brian S. got enough to eat! 

Due to the good times from Saturday we were placed in rec division A. Ross warned us that this would be a tough division to beat, he said that “we should be afraid”. Our races on Sunday were good ones for us, but the competition was indeed tough. We placed 7th in the final race of the festival. We felt it was a good race and we gave it all we had. 

PROLOGUE: This was our second festival of the season and we are right where we should be in strength and technique. Now it is time to work on controlling the strength and power. We saw some of our bay area friends at the festival, Dragon Warriors, Galileo, CYC and Ripple. CYC earned a silver. The Healers were the only ones to bring the gold home! 

We should be very proud of our performance throughout the festival. Bruce is somewhere yelling, ”Go Healers, go!!!” 


Kathy Britt