Finding Your Passion At Any Age! Kirsty MacMillan Discovers Paddleboard Racing Helps her Destress from the Operating Room.

Finding Your Passion At Any Age! Kirsty MacMillan Discovers Paddleboard Racing Helps her Destress from the Operating Room.


Finding your passion, something you truly love doing, is EVERYTHING!  I found my passion when I discovered Stand Up Paddleboarding at the age of 42!

I was on a trip to LA taking a break from my frozen Ontario home, and decided to rented a SUP for 2 hours.  I explored the marina area at Redondo Beach and had the best time.  Paddling up to the sealions and their pups sitting on the rocks was pure joy; there were dozens of them and seeing them up close and hearing them bark at each other was amazing! 

I knew on the flight home that I had  to get a board of my own.

I’m a fulltime frontline healthcare worker, originally a Respiratory Therapist but after going back to school 11 years ago I became an Anesthesia Assistant.  Working at the hospital was very busy and extremely stressful.  I knew I wasn’t coping as well as I should, but didn’t realize at the time that I had undiagnosed anxiety. 

It was a pure gut feeling that told me that being out on the water getting some exercise paddling would help me.  I was SO right. It has helped tremendously to heal both my mind and my body.  Running around the hospital for 12 hours in a shift can be exhausting.  It's very hard on the feet so an added bonus has been discovering OOFOS.  My OOcloogs are the absolute best!  They’re incredibly comfortable and just what I need to support me and make my feet happy. 


I’ve always been athletic and my competitive drive really kicked in when I realized that it was possible to race in SUP.  I started off doing novice races and immediately loved the cool vibe of the community.  I saw all these incredibly athletic women racing at the elite level and desperately wanted to be a part of it all.  I trained hard and took a lot of lessons so I could join them. Great coaches like Larry Cain helped me improve my technique and understanding of paddling.  It’s 8 years later and I’m now a sponsored rider for Starboard, having competed for Team Canada at the ICF World Championships in Poland in 2022.  My current focus is to return to the Worlds in Thailand and compete this November. And yes, my kids think I’m pretty darned cool!

SUP has given me an incredible group of like-minded friends.  It lets me show my 2 boys that I’m allowed to be a mom and also have something to do that’s important to me.  SUP allowed me to learn so much from great coaches that I became a coach myself. 

As I turn 50 this month, I know that SUP has given me a path to be in the best shape of my life.  Training out on the water has helped my mental health, and gave me an outlet to focus on while working as a frontline healthcare worker through the Covid19 Pandemic.  There were long periods of time that I was redeployed to ICU, Emergency and the RT dept because the operating rooms were shut down. The stress of doing different work than I was used to and different shifts that didn’t fit into my family life, was so intense that I eventually ended up on a sick leave for anxiety.  It’s something I’ve had all my life and while I was able to function with it, I realize it took a toll.  As difficult as that time was, it helped me to gain perspective on my past and present.  I had a renewed gratitude for being active, healthy, and for being back out on the water. 


One of the biggest SUP races is The Graveyard at Carolina Cup, and I did it for the second time this year.  I wrote an article on it for Paddle Monster if you want to hear all about it!  It’s 22 km long and is known as the best test of a paddler’s skills because it includes paddling in the ocean, surfing through the inlets and paddling in flat water… very fun and VERY hard on my feet.  The race took me almost 4 hours to do, and countless hours training, all of which involve paddling barefoot on my raceboard.  A lot of boarders training for SUP find their feet go numb and hurt while training and taking part in those long races. Calf pumps are very important as part of your recovery, a few gentle heel raises will help to counteract the effects, but when I discovered Oofos recovery sandals I found they really helped me too.  They're like heavenly clouds on my feet after being on my board!   

 As soon as I get back to my car to load up equipment, the first thing I do is grab my Oofos sandals and put them on.  I had originally bought them because a chiropodist suggested I get something with support for wearing in the house.  But now I wear them ALL the time!  They’ve become a part of how I take care of my body while training so hard. I’m so happy I found these, and can’t wait to wear them while travelling to Thailand for my races later this year!


 I love OOFOS for my life as an athlete and as a frontline healthcare worker.

Finding your passion really is everything, even in the dead of a Canadian winter!

Find Kirsty's Favourites here! 

You can find out more about Kirsty by visiting her Instragram page or her website Kirsty MacMillan