Harnessing Grit Like the Boys in the Boat

August 4, 2017

If you are a frequent reader of the No BS Blog, you know that every so often we make a point to tear our eyes away from our computers, get out of the office together, and enjoy what our cities have to offer. If you can throw in a little competition – even better.

Last week, the Seattle team enjoyed our summer fun day kayaking on beautiful Lake Washington. We paired off two-by-two and were led from Portage Bay, through the Montlake Cut, and into the west side of the lake, flanked by Husky Stadium on one side (go Dawgs!) and the 520 floating bridge on the other. I promise it’s nicer than it sounds.

Beautiful Husky Stadium

The Montlake Cute

As we kayaked together, our guide pointed out famous houseboats (sadly not the Sleepless in Seattle one) and showed us the Conibear Shellhouse, home to the famous UW rowing program. As we passed through The Cut and viewed the messages left by local rowing teams, he regaled us with the story of perhaps the most famous UW rowing team, nine working-class boys who captured the hearts and minds of America when they won Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics. Their story was documented in the book, “The Boys in the Boat” – a good read by the way!

The writing on the wall

When it was time to turn back, perhaps it was this story that encouraged Kayla and me to ignore the blisters on our hands, harness our grit, and paddle faster than anyone else to get back to the docks first. Weaving between large boats and Canadian geese, we battled through lily pads and crashing waves to victory. Did everyone else know we were racing them? Probably not. Did it matter? Absolutely not. Harness grit is one of our agency’s core values, and one that we take very seriously. For the first time maybe ever, an Oregon Duck and Washington Husky joined forces to battle for good over almost-just-as-good.

The winning team

As our prize, we were first to a delicious Mexican feast prepared by the Agua Verde Paddle Club, although we could barely lift our arms to eat lunch. As we sat around the tables, I realized that many of us (not all – are you crazy?) still had our phones tucked away and were conversing face to face instead of through keyboard and screens. It was a delightful day of awe-inspiring action, and I have no doubt the kayak guide is telling the tale of The Duck and the Dawg to his new tour right now.


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