Racing the Dragon

HOW A NEW INDUSTRY IS WORKING TO TURN A 2,000-YEAR-OLD CHINESE TEAM SPORT INTO THE NEXT BIG THING

Until she stepped into a dragon boat, Kathy Pollonais-Britt was most emphatically not a team player. The veteran marathon runner loved the solitude of pounding the pavement, not the egoism and pressure of team sports. "I'd never been a groupie," she says. But when her employer, the health-care company Kaiser Permanente, sponsored the San Francisco International Dragon Boat Festival last year, the social worker was intrigued. In dragon-boat racing, a 2,000-year-old Chinese sport traditionally held on the fifth day of the fifth lunar month, paddlers race to a drummer's beat in a long, narrow boat decorated at bow and stern with...

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