More competitors than ever competed in an annual race across the lake in Elk Grove Regional Park Sunday, but it was still a struggle for many of them to get across the finish line.
The competitors sat inside hollowed-out pumpkins weighing hundreds of pounds, and had to paddle across the lake and back. Out of 11 competitors in the Elk Grove Giant Pumpkin Festival's pumpkin regatta, David Herrera was the winner.
"I knew I was going to come in first," said Herrera, a Galt resident. "I had that gut feeling when I woke up."
Watch a video of Herrera crossing the finish line above.
He said one of the trickiest parts of the race was staying balanced–something several other competitors struggled with, capsizing and falling into the murky water.
"Your legs have to balance out your rowing," said Tiffany Myers, a two-time competitor and the daughter of giant pumpkin grower Bryan Myers. "As you're rowing, the pumpkin will wobble."
Tiffany Myers was ill, and was replaced by family friend Katelyn Valentine, a Rocklin resident who came in third place. Tiffany Myers said Valentine's finish in the sixth-annual race was the best-ever result from a woman.
"It was hard," Valentine said. "My muscles were a little tired."
Valentine added that the race was actually easier than she expected it to be.
"I thought I would flip, definitely."
Cosumnes Community Services District Recreation Supervisor Zach Jones said he was happy with this year's event.
"It's a great year for pumpkins; it's a great year for people," Jones said. "People having a chance to be families … They're just here as mom and dad and kids. It's why we do this every year."
Above, watch a video of a forklift dropping one of the giant pumpkins into the water after the race.