And We’re Off to the Everglades Challenge!

By Johna Till Johnson and Vladimir Brezina

A front is coming our way!

It all depends on the weather! (Actually, a front like this, with a nice northerly tailwind, would be very welcome during the race…)

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.)

91 responses to “And We’re Off to the Everglades Challenge!

  1. WOW! I am utterly in awe and more than a little bit jealous. Best of luck!!

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  2. I am smiling! Have fun!

    George

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  3. Well, you have more guts than I do. I can’t even make it to the gym! I wish I could use their disclaimer in my work; “Sorry, we’re not responsible. We may give you bad advice.” Good luck!

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    • Don’t feel bad—I can’t make it to the gym either…

      The disclaimer is fun. I wonder if it’s legally meaningful? Of course, another part of the disclaimer says that if you attempt to appeal about it to an outside authority, including presumably a legal authority, you are automatically disqualified… I like the Catch-22 flavor of that too :-)

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  4. Wow, between you doing this and The Accidental Cootchie Mama (http://andrawatkins.com/) doing her 444 mile Natchez Trace walk I am almost beginning to feel like a slacker!

    Good luck! I will be tracking you both!

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  5. I’m jealous! Sounds like an amazing adventure–hard to come by these days. Happy paddling and bon voyage. Eager to hear of your adventures when you return.

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  6. Have Good times and be safe …

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  7. Have a GREAT time, you two!
    Will eagerly await details upon your return/recovery!
    del

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  8. Good luck. I hope you finish, safely.

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  9. Best of luck! :-)

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  10. Sounds fantastic. Good luck with it all !

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  11. You’re heading out for this massive and hard trip. May you have safe, dry and bug-free journeys on your adventure. Good luck and take care.

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    • Thank you for your good wishes! One thing we do know already, that a bug-free trip can be achieved if we keep paddling and don’t actually stop anywhere, which we might have to do anyway to make it in the allowed time… ;-)

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  12. Sending every bit of positive energy I have your way. Good for you to take on this huge challenge. Best of luck!

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  13. How exciting! Can’t wait to read about it when you FINISH IN 7 DAYS and win top prize!!

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  14. Will keep both of you in daily prayer. This is a great challenge that you have well trained for. I will pray for good weather, calm waters and plenty of strength and endurance. Can’t wait to see your posts after you return.

    BE ENCOURAGED! BE BLESSED!

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    • Thanks, Francine! Except for the fact that we haven’t been able to paddle much in the last couple of months here in NYC because of ice, I think we are reasonably well prepared… In any case, we’ll have fun! :-)

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  15. May the winds be fair and ever at your back, and the sun fall softly upon your face. Bon Voyage!

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  16. Wow, that looks like fun. Well, kind of ;-)
    The warnings are not that bad actually. A friend of mine did a mud run recently and posted the warning on the envelope she got. It said something like “there’s a serious chance you may getting injured or even die during this event. We’re not responsible….”
    Nice, huh?

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    • It’s just being realistic ;-)

      They all have warnings like that. We posted the WaterTribe one (actually just the end of it—it goes on for three pages) because we like its imaginative, almost poetic riff on the usual legalese….

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  17. fantastic challenge … good luck you two!

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  18. All the Best! May the force be with you! :)

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  19. What a great adventure – enjoy and I look forward to seeing the evidence!

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  20. Great Vladi !
    in Italy to wish dood luck we say “In bocca al lupo” (In the mouth of the wolf) or “In culo alla balena” (in the backhole of whale) :-D
    Have a nice adventure !

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  21. good luck sound great

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  22. best of luck and have fun!

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  23. Having puddled around in estuaries and waterways along the Gulf Coast, I have only imagined the journey you are making, and admire you as well. Keep a weather eye and enjoy!

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  24. All the best on completing the Challenge! I look forward to reading about the adventure. Safe paddles! :-)

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  25. Good luck! Have fun, stay safe. You got it!

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  26. That’s awesome.. You are starting in the town I live in..expect warm, rainy weather but it sounds like a great adventure..good luck & enjoy!!

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  27. wow – sounds like a great adventure. I will check your progress and you both will be in though and prayers! Best wishes – and whew – have fun!

    ~y.

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  28. Reblogged this on The Quotidian Hudson and commented:
    And here are my other blogging buddies on their great adventure. Kayak the Everglades in 8 days (or less)

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  29. God Speed! Have fun. Will track your progress. You will be very busy for a while. No need to comment back…

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  30. My heart and hope is with you both !!!

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  31. Wow! The tracking site is so cool! So impressed !

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  32. Good luck…that’s a serious challenge.

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  33. What an amazing adventure! Sending many +Vs for a safe, awe-inspiring, memorable, fun trip! GOOD LUCK!

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  34. Hope you have a good experience.

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  35. Been following you all the way. What a paddle. Right now I think you are about 2 to finish. Congratulations!. You did it!
    Really looking forward to reading your blog on this very hard expedition.

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  36. BRAVO!!!! You two are amazing. I’m tired just following your track. My shoulders hurt thinking about the headwind you paddled into for the last leg. Thank you for finishing before it got too late so all of us who were on this adventure with you (if only vicariously) can now go to sleep. Can’t wait for the writeup.

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    • Johna Till Johnson

      Thanks David! We would have come in earlier except Vlad kept taking so many pictures :-). It was a beautiful day on Florida Bay. Writeup to come…

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  37. The WaterTribe warning makes for fun reading, even if the reality behind it wasn’t always fun for you. Every political candidate for office should be required to post a similar declaration.

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    • Johna Till Johnson

      You know, politics might be a different place if politicians faced the risk of being eaten by alligators….

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      • Hey, I’m all for that, and I think you’d find plenty of citizens who agree.

        Along those lines, but with no recourse to alligators, I recently wrote a would-be guest editorial for the Austin newspaper, whose editors of course didn’t publish it. One proposal in my editorial was this:

        “It’s all too easy for politicians to get carried away spending other people’s money, and there’s a long history of projects around the country that end up costing a lot more than proponents originally claimed they would. Therefore, as a token of politicians’ personal responsibility for their actions, I propose what we’ll euphoniously call PYMWYMIA, or the Put-Your-Money-Where-Your-Mouth-Is Act:

        “All representatives of the people (i.e. the mayor and members of the City Council) who vote to put on the ballot a proposition raising taxes for a project shall place half of their total personal assets in escrow; the percent by which the ultimate cost of the project exceeds the initially claimed cost (up to 100%) is the percent by which those representatives’ escrowed assets shall be reduced, and the amount of the reduction shall be forfeited to the City treasury.”

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        • Johna Till Johnson

          :-). Yes, politics in a democracy always seems to go along the lines of “let’s you and him fight”—where the speaker personally runs no risk.

          That said, you could say pretty much the same thing about executives of a public company who are rewarded based on the company’s temporary stock increase, but bear no risk for introducing systemic problems. Those folks are essentially induced to gamble with other people’s money, under a “heads I win/tails you lose” scenario.

          So the public-company equivalent to your proposal would be to require executives to invest up to 100% of their personal assets into the company, payable no sooner than 10 years out.

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        • I see the beginnings here of a movement for accountability.

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  38. crazyguyinthailand

    Awesome :D :D :D

    Like

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