By Johna Till Johnson and Vladimir Brezina
After years of dreaming, eighteen months of preparation, two training trips, countless hours paddling and at the gym… we are finally off participating in the WaterTribe Everglades Challenge, a 300-mile adventure race down the Gulf coast of Florida, starting at Tampa Bay and ending in Key Largo.
It’s an unsupported, expedition-style adventure race, meaning that (from WaterTribe’s description of the event):
The distance is roughly 300 nautical miles depending on your course selection. There is a time limit of 8 days or less. Your safety and well being are completely up to you.
Unsupported means that there are no safety boats or support crews to help you during the race. Expedition style means that you must carry the same type of equipment and supplies that you would carry on a major expedition lasting 4 weeks or more. Camping equipment, food, water, safety, communication, etc. is required.
The warning that we are required to sign, written in inimitable style, makes fun reading! It culminates in:
By entering any WaterTribe Challenge or event, you are agreeing that all the people, companies, and agents associated with the event owe you nothing nor do we owe you duty of care or service or any other duty. We promise you nothing. We do not and will not even try to make this event safe for anyone. This event is not safe for anyone. This is no joke. We won’t even try to warn you about every known danger or hazardous condition, whether we know about it or not. If we do decide to warn you about something, that doesn’t mean we will try to warn you about everything. If we do make an effort to make some aspect of the event safer, we may not correct other aspects, and we may even make matters worse! We and our agents may do things that are unwise and dangerous. Sorry, we’re not responsible. We may give you bad advice. Don’t listen to us. In short, ENTER AND PARTICIPATE IN THESE EVENTS AT YOUR OWN RISK. And have fun!
Our goals are simple. The main goal is to finish, period (well, to finish in time to catch our flight home from Miami). The “stretch goal”—as they say in sales—is to finish within the 8-day time limit.
We’re not being humble. Some years, 60% or more of Challengers don’t finish. We could very well be among those, especially if the weather turns against us. But whatever happens, we hope to learn quite a lot about ourselves and our capabilities—and enjoy the ride.
We won’t be blogging for a while, but you can track our progress in (almost) real time. We each have a SPOT tracking device (required for the race) that, over a satellite network, sends its current location every few minutes to a web page. Vlad’s is here, and Johna’s is here.
If you want to track everyone in the race, it’s here. You can select individual Challengers using the dropdown menu. Vlad is SeaHare, Johna is ZippyChick.
The race starts at 7 AM on Saturday, March 1.
See you all when we get back!
(Update March 11, 2014: Our individual SPOT tracking web pages retain the tracks for only a week, so if you read this post at a later date, the tracks will be gone. The common WaterTribe tracking page retains the tracks more permanently, although not indefinitely either.)