Guido leads Great Balloon Race

Published 12:00 am Sunday, October 22, 2000

After the first day of competition in the Great Mississippi River Balloon Race, a familiar face is leading the pack.

Natchez resident Stephen Guido is in first place after Saturday’s tasks, an accomplishment the relative newcomer to the sport did not expect.

&uot;I’m flying against the big dogs, the guys who fly every weekend,&uot; Guido said, adding that he has only made two events this year before this weekend’s. &uot;I’m just lucky. I caught a wind that nobody else did.

Email newsletter signup

Saturday’s morning task was to drop bean-bag markers on targets located behind Natchez Mall and on the Vidalia mat fields.

&uot;I stayed low, about five feet off the river,&uot; Guido said of his run at the second target. &uot;An east wind took me right to the target. When I was able to set that bag down right in the center of the ‘X,’ man, was I excited.&uot;

Three other pilots are close to Guido’s score, he said, and he thinks the more experienced pilots will have a better chance at catching him today.

&uot;I’m prepared to get up there and do nothing and lose the whole thing,&uot; he said. &uot;I don’t expect to win it all. I just want to do the best I can.&uot;

Not that victory isn’t possible, he added.

&uot;If those other guys don’t score either, I could win it all,&uot; he said. &uot;It could go either way.&uot;

Guido may be underestimating his abilities. In addition to winning the first task, he was one of only five pilots to score on the Barge Drop task, the most difficult event of the race.

&uot;I’m in it for the pure sport of it,&uot; he said. &uot;It’s been a fun day.&uot;

Today would be more fun if he becomes the first Natchezian to win the race, he said.

&uot;I’ve never won anything in my life,&uot; he said. &uot;I’d be the first homeboy to win this thing.&uot;