Garry Boater X – why you should be there next year!

This is my third year at the Garry Boater Cross (X) second year competing and I’m here to tell you why you should be signing up for next year’s race!

The Organisers

Before I start talking on anything else, big shout out needs to go to everyone who helps make this event a success.  Daryn Hubbucks and Kev Barclay have been running the events since 2012 (I believe), supported by Gavin Miller and Howard Aspinall. The amount of effort they put in clearly shows in the smooth running and excellence of the event.  There is so much work put in behind the scenes from t-shirt’s ordering to organising running order, ferrying about podiums, arranging prizes and trophies, ensuring everyone is looked after on and off the water and about a million other things, as well as, competing in the event itself!  The guys’ whole families get involved and without these wonderful people events like this would not be possible.  Thank you!! 

It’s thanks to Kev, Daryn, Howard, Gav and friends that these events are such a success.

The Location

The past few years’ people have stayed in Cumbernauld’s Campsite in the town of Fort Augustus. It’s a beautiful town with only a few pubs and some really quaint wee shops including a wee jewellery shop called Iceberg Glass where they blow stunning glass creations like the Jelly Fish pendants I’m currently coveting.  People are very friendly and it’s not too far from the Garry.

The Set-Up

The setup is perfect.  If you arrive Friday afternoon as a lot of folk do you will congregate somewhere on the campsite to help draw names from a hat (plastic bag!) to see who you will be racing in the first heat.  Depending on how you place in the first race will determine your placing in the next race until your final where there is everything to play for because everyone has the chance to place on the podium for your heat.

Male champions Michael Brown, Gavin Miller and Ewan Campbell took 1st, 2nd and 3rd at this year’s event

The People and Atmosphere

This year there were 17 women and 42 men racing and it was glorious.  I was feeding off the energy that everyone was exuding, trying to calm people’s nerves and generally having a great time with everyone I met.  Everyone is honestly so supportive and the atmosphere is addictive.  When you’re nor racing you spend some time on the ‘cheering rock’ in the gorge of the bridge at the finish line, shouting words of encouragement to your fellow participants, inspiring them across that finish line!

Mulling around between heats (c) Linda Stewart

The Race

The race starts at 12 and is every hour after this.  When I took part in the race last year I was sh**ting myself.  I always seemed to put pressure on myself to do well, despite not having trained or even having the desire to race competitively.

Ride that wave (c) Linda Stewart

Coming back a year later I had managed my own expectations and had two ambitions.  To go as fast as I possibly could and to stay upright because I knew a capsize would place me out of the race.  Of course it is competitive as it’s a race but everyone plays fair and I’ve never had any problems myself with any of the other racers.  As soon as the whistle or shout ‘Go!’ is sounded everything else turns off and you race your wee heart out as fast as you can, trying to avoid a tussle that could slow you down!  Once in the gorge you use the flow to catch your breath before powering it down the rest of the course to a cheering finish line.

(c) Linda Stewart, GBX 2017

The prizes

Everyone who enters of volunteers on the day recieved a goody bag with a Garry Boater X t-shirt, stickers, juice, packet of crisps and a chocolate bar.  There is always a raffle of some kind at the end using bibs to choose a lucky winner and most of the podium placed winners receive a small prize of some sort.  This particular year the trophies were out of this world created by Jennifer Hartnett and I am beyond stoked to have one sitting on my sideboard at home!

Stoked and disbelieving Danger

The After Party

This year’s after party was not as legendary as previous years as the council have upped the licence costs of local businesses in the area and the Campsite staff couldn’t afford to open the Campsite Bar/BBQ as before, however, that didn’t stop most of us having a boogie and beer underneath a gazeebo in the Campsite grounds, with some attempting a mini pub crawl around Fort Augustus.  Hopefully we’ll be back to normal next year but safe to say the people make the party anyway.

Well deserved pints in our GBX 2017 tees

If you are having reservations about entering please don’t! This event is completely accessible to everyone no matter how long you’ve been paddling. An example of this at both Garry Boater X and Tully X this year was Andreana Caldwell entering and competing after only paddling a couple of months. She felt supported and energised by the events and would also recommend to everyone!

Andreana crossing the finish line at Garry Boater X 2017

Remember you can do your bit by sharing the Garry Boater X and Tully X events, offering assistance to the guys (as I’m sure there are numerous jobs they’d love help with) and simply signing up to give it a bash, ensuring it’s continued success!  See you all July 2018 

Hugs aplenty! Suzy and Danger (c) Linda Stewart

That time Facebook stole my name.

Names are important.  They can help build our character, shape our identity and provide us with a way to always start a conversation with a stranger.  Names can also change over time and won’t necessarily relate to the name provided to you at birth.

Likelihood is you won’t just have one name.  Nicknames, pet names, joke names I have dished out a fair few to my nearest and dearest at one point in time… Fergatron, Tom Tom, E, Smell, Grumpy Gus, Do Ron Ron, Huffy Puff…the list does go on and will grow and probably become more annoying to my friends but part of them surely experiences a tiny jolt of pleasure from the homage.

Think about how it feels when your significant other calls you by that name, the one that naturally appeared one day and, when first spoken, filled you with deep and comforting warmth which spread around your body.  The one that can be used in times of stress to calm, to top the already finest day with a bright red cherry of love and which now encompasses so much of your togetherness that thinking about it too hard could lead to ugly happy tears.

Now think about your own name.  For some this will be an extremely straightforward question but for others?  Well for others it can take a bit more time to arrive to an honest answer.  I’ve always been uncomfortable with my full name…“Danielle”.  To date the only people to ever use this name are stubborn family members, my parents if I was in trouble (“DANN-EEE-YELL!!”), doctors, dentists, teachers who hated me, strangers and my close friends who know how much I hate it (I’m looking at you Cunty)! 

For most of my life I have been known as Dani but for the past 8 years a new name has followed me around.  Danger Mouth was my chosen name when I started playing Roller Derby and has become cemented into my history by the most wonderful group of fearless women, supportive men and life changing experiences.  An overwhelming sense of belonging and acknowledgement I hadn’t realised I yearned for until I was immersed in this new world.  My newly found confidence and budding self-belief enabled me to start living a life that was mine, which I built and this saturated my new name with so much strength, joy, understandings and acceptance that it holds the power to conjure these feelings when I’m perhaps not feeling worthy as I should.

So when Facebook sent me a notification that someone had reported me for posing as someone I was not on the social networking platform I was little hurt but confident I could clear up the confusion. How wrong was I?  Facebook sent a pleasant email with lots of examples of proofs you can send, reassuring you that this can be things like library cards, official letters, bank statements, utility bills and does not need to be official government documentation, but does need to be the name you use in everyday life.  I stupidly provided my passport the first time round, assuming there would be scope for a justification of why I was Danger King and that I needed the name as no one knows who this Danielle person is. WRONG! They changed my name to reflect my passport in 3 mins, despite my protests that this was not an authentic name.  I was honestly 100% gutted.

Visiting Facebook or any of the many apps I use connected to the network (Netflix, Gmail, Instagram, YouTube) I didn’t recognise the handle.  I feel like I’ve regressed a bit in the months since this has happened, getting pangs of disappointment anytime someone tagged ‘Danielle’ into a post or a photo because this isn’t me.  There is power in a name and I don’t accept this one.

I’m the tip of the iceberg really, I’m not trying to hide my identity from anyone but some people are.  There are those who need to use fake names or pseudonyms to protect themselves and their families from abuse, those who have a name that will not fit with their gender, irrespective of how they choose to identify themselves or perhaps a burlesque performer, fabulous drag queen, a teacher who doesn’t want the kids they teach to harass them or just someone who really f**king hates their name! 

There is a movement which has been created in retaliation to Facebooks detrimental ‘Authentic Name’ policy, organising protests, collecting user stories (#MyNameIs) and have penned an open letter to Facebook asking them to review their policy which is damaging vulnerable people. www.mynameiscampaign.org

It’s an ordeal to get a response from Facebook, let alone procedures for consistency.  It’s like they have been briefed to antagonise and victimise Facebook Users as much as possible before simply ignoring any further attempts to supply proofs, suspending your account with no hope of revival. Hence I’m 3 profiles deep, one under my Government approved name, one suspended and one currently open for now.  I have officially changed my name by deed poll and am in the process of changing my government IDs to reflect this.  The one good thing about this ordeal, it has forced me to realise how much I have grown in the past decade and how significant Danger is to me.  Gone are the days of longing to introduce myself as Danger but getting shy and reverting to Dani or apologising for the weird name I just muttered at you.  Humans I hold dear to me know the score believe in who I am and support me with this stubborn, crazy decision. 

For the record, I don’t except people to suddenly start calling me Danger, but if you want to I won’t mind one little bit.