BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - When he's not balancing the scales of justice, East Baton Rouge District Attorney Hillar Moore is trying to balance himself standing atop a paddleboard.
"When you see people on these boards and they're standing up, it looks like it's really easy, but then when you get on that board, you figure out that it's all core," Moore said.
He picked up the healthy hobby last year to prepare for the race of a lifetime: a 13-mile journey down the Mississippi River called the YOLO Board Big River Regional.
"You only live once, and I thought I was gonna only die once. Once I got on the paddleboard and actually got on the Mississippi River, it just seemed like it was a real adventure," he recalled.
It's an adventure that takes serious training. The 60-year-old DA spent three months working out at Gorilla Fitness. The CrossFit-style routine is a natural stress reliever and works the entire body. Co-owner Walker Higgins said it's ideal for paddleboarders.
"Your shoulders, your chest, your abdominal area, your lower back, your legs, really just the whole kinetic chain is going to be engaged the whole time during paddleboarding," he said.
Higgins and business partner Troy Archer run the box gym and Muddy Water Paddle Company under the same roof.
"We're actually one of the fastest-growing paddle communities in the nation," Higgins said. "Surprisingly we have limited water right where we are, but if you think about the state, we're covered in water."
Muddy Water also offers paddle classes for beginners on the much calmer LSU lakes. Taking on the current of the mighty Mississippi is reserved for professionals, and this year's race will draw over 200 top paddlers from around the country. Higgins said the unique experience on the river is worth the training.
"Every time I go out there, it's a surreal feeling, everything is so gigantic. The vessels are 50 to 100 feet above your head," said Higgins.
The river is shut down to boat traffic during the race, and paddlers must stay at least 300 feet away from anchored ships. The U.S. Coast Guard and East Baton Rouge Sheriff's Office provide assistance on the water. Paddlers leave from the giant Baton Rouge sign on the levee and finish 13 miles downriver at L'Auberge Casino. The race is also open to other paddlecraft, including kayaks, canoes, surf skis and outriggers.
After completing the race in 2014, Moore will only be firing the starting shot for the third annual event on Saturday, August 29.
An introduction, prayer and the Star Spangled Banner are scheduled for 7:30 a.m. with the official start set for 8 a.m. The Finish Festival kicks off at 10 a.m. on L'Auberge's lawn. The public is invited to watch the racers from the levee.