Friday, April 07, 2006

Back Home And Recharging My Batteries

I've been home a full week now, and am finally starting to come out of the fog in my head. Have been mostly sleeping and eating. The first few nights Paul would find me waking up completely confused and disoriented, very concerned that we were not moving forward, trying to paddle the bed out the bedroom door, and complaining that there wasn't enough water.

Aside from need to catch up on sleep, I'm in very good condition. My fingers have some temporary nerve damage, some numbness and lots of tingling when I try to use them in certain ways, they are swollen in the morning, but once slowly stretched and warmed up, all seems OK. I didn't suffer from any blisters or infections, and my butt couldn't have been more comfortable sitting in the Kruger seat during the long hours of paddling. I lost some weight (~10 lbs) during the 1200-mile UFC, wish it were more, guess I kept myself pretty fueled. My clothes fit better so I must have also have converted some fat to lean.

I've been viewing the photos and videos on the WaterTribe website as well as some I have that were not posted. I've also been reading all the messages and race logs that were posted in the WaterTribe discussion forum during the UFC. Thank you all very much for the messages of encouragement that many of you posted or e-mailed. Although Paul relayed them to me over the phone during the race, I've enjoyed reading them all too. Thanks so much!

WHAT AN INCREDABLE EXPERIENCE AND ADVENTURE. It almost seems a dream now. I've been reading through my blog that Paul "DancesWithSandyBottom" kept up so nicely (thanks Paul). And there is so much more. I've made some new and wonderful friends (Dexter "ThereAndBackAgain", Leon "DrKayak", John "RiverJohn", Jenning "the photographer" just to name a few, and, I had the opportunity to renew old friendships I've made during the Challenges. There are very few things I am more prouder of, than being a member of the WaterTribe. Group photo at start of Everglades Challenge 2006.

Warren Richey "Sharkchow" stated it best: "Outsiders may not understand this. But those who enter these events include some of the most interesting people I've ever met. They are rugged individualists, folks of integrity and courage. To use the old cliché, they are the kind of people I'd feel comfortable sharing a foxhole with. The battlefield analogy is a good one because the UFC was a physical and mental battle from beginning to end. " Read Warren's full article on the UFC Challenge. And I look forward to reading other articles, maybe even a book on the challenge (rumor?).

The annual WaterTribe challenges of which I have participated for the past 3 years have been incredible experiences for me, and without a doubt highlights of my paddling life. I'll likely never repeat the 1200 mile Challenge (not because I wouldn't want to, more a problem with time), but, as has been true at the end of every WaterTribe Challenge, even now I'm beginning to look forward to doing the 300-mile Everglades Challenge next year.

Many thank-yous are in order. Without the wonderful support I received, I might not have been able to have participated, and certainly would not have had the success I did.

First, thanks to Chief, Ms Chief, and PRchick for all your work in putting on these Challenges. There is nothing like it in the whole world, and you guys put on the best. (Photo of Chief and I after my finish)

My biggest and heartfelt thanks to Paul otherwise known as "DancesWithSandyBottom", and my family. Without really wanting too, Paul ends up participating in almost every mile of these Challenges from home. Though my regular calls let him know I'm okay, some of the frantic ones in the middle of the night, do little to keep him from worrying throughout. He is a true partner in these Challenges with me.

Special thanks to Mark Przedwojewski at Kruger Canoes. I know that I could not have completed this Challenge had I not done it in the comfort of a Kruger Canoe. I am one of Mark's and Kruger Canoes biggest fans, and proud to be a member of Team Kruger, and the new owner of his old Dreamcatcher.

I was lucky to have received sponsorship that was a great help to me. Balanced Movement Studios, for taking the time to help get me in shape, and for all the encouragement and support throughout. Thanks also to Pacific Action Sails (they are the best), Zaveral Racing Equipment, Dahon Folding Bikes, Maptech, Kokatat, Outdoor Research, Paddleboy Designs, McMurdo, Moutain House, and The Clean Machine. I will be posting more information later about some of this equipment and how it helped me.

I've enjoyed having this blog, and there are many stories that will need to be told, and photos to be shown. My family (in Hawaii and Denver) have also enjoyed being able to keep up with me through the blog. So, I'll likely redesign it a bit, and turn it into a personal blog with focus less entirely on this past Challenge, but certainly with more stories (and photos) about my Challenge, and on my future Challenges, WaterTribe and otherwise.

Thanks Again

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Day30: Across the Finish Line ! reported by DancesWithSandyBottom

Sunday (Day30) is the day SandyBottom and DrKayak arrived at the finish line on the beach in Ft. DeSoto Park on Mullet Key in Tampa Bay. About seven folks, friends and family, were on hand to provide a warm welcome and congratulations to these two intrepid challengers.

SandyBottom and DrKayak finally arrived at 8:33 PM. It was a happy occasion filled with a sense of relief and accomplishment. They had paddled all night long except for a brief rest and made the best time they could. A times the wind was helpful but during most of the final 24 hours it was not.

As the sun set they came into view for the family and friends stationed on the pier next to old Ft. DeSoto. They were traveling south against a strong tide and heavy chop but with a west-northwest wind in their favor. As they passed the pier there were happy greetings and encouragements to round the point of Mullet Key and go the last mile to the finish line near the bay-side pier.

After showering and stowing gear there was a brief celebration. Chief presented SandyBottom and DrKayak their awards for the EC and UFC. SandyBottom, DrKayak and family and friends eventually found their way to an IHOP Restaurant for some wonderful "real food" and happy story telling.

For those of you who were wondering if SandyBottom, and DrKayak, would make it to the finish line by noon, it turned out that they did not. Chief posted this note regarding the time limit for the UFC:

"The time limit is perfect as is. Five challengers finished with time to spare. Two Challengers needed a few extra hours, but they gave it their best shot and really pushed at the end. For those of you new to WaterTribe you should understand that we ALWAYS let finishers have their actual time instead of a DNF if they miss the last deadline but are trying like hell to finish on time. This is nothing new. I didn't publicly explain this while they were still out there because their actions must come from their own inner character. SandyBottom and DrKayak showed true WaterTribe spirit because even when they knew it was hopeless to meet the deadline they refused to stop and kept trying. They did their best today and therefore earned their finishing time instead of the dreaded DNF. My hat is off to them. The overall time limit will be the same in UF2008, but I may adjust the time limits for S2, S3, and S4 by a day or two."

My opinion: The Chief has spoken. He makes the rules, it is his race that challengers may choose to enter (or not), and in this role his contributions are great and are greatly appreciated. Now it happens that he is wise and knowledgeable about all things having to do with the adventure racing and WaterTribe challenges. And so, although folks will certainly disagree with him sometimes, it is fair to say that he is held in very high esteem by the WaterTribe as a good leader and is well-deserving of his name.

While SandyBottom and DrKayak push it to the limit to come on in, the beach waited for their arrival......

And the sun sets....

Then they came into view as specks on the horizon...

And got closer as the the sky darkened....

Finally close enough to talk to ("Go to next pier") ....

Headed off to round the point of Mullet Key; with the tide and wind after that all the way in.

All the push-pins on the map...

First and last push-pins on the beach at Ft. DeSoto Park.....

On the way home...

SandyBottom and DWSB have now safely returned to their home in Chapel Hill, NC.

Day29: Sprinting South to Finish Stage5 reported by DancesWithSandyBottom

Saturday (Day29) there is little or no time for resting. SandyBottom and DrKayak are doing all they can to meet the goal of reaching the finish line at Fr. DeSoto by noon on Sunday.

After leaving Mermaids' Landing on Friday and after evading the fishing fleet Friday night they stopped once on a sandbar to rest/sleep in their boats for 3 hours. At about 4 AM Saturday, they resumed paddleing. SandyBottom called in a report at 11:30 AM. At that point they were about 53.5 miles south of Mermaids' Landing, 26 miles north of Anclote Key, and about 67 miles north of Ft DeSoto. In her report SB said that she was concerned that were only averaging about 2.5 mph. She said so far the winds have been headwinds (I'm guessing from the web-based forecasts that this means 5-10 mph in the day time and something less than that at night) and they were wondering when / if that bit of north wind might kick in as predicted in the VHF weather reports. SB was concerned that traveling the remaining 67 miles at 2.5 mph would not get them to the finish line by noon Sunday. She was hoping that a tailwind would arrive to give them a boost.

Assuming they had 67 miles to go and 23 hours to do it in, then they will have to paddle at least 2.91 mph (=67/23) nonstop for 23 hours to arrive by noon. If instead their best average is 2.5 mph over those 23 hours then they would arrive at 3:48 pm.

We can't really know what can happen until we try.

The cellphone connection was scratchy and the report was brief. These are the facts as I understood them. Cellphone coverage and signal quality should be improving at the kayakers approach the finish.

At 2:10 PM DrKayak called in a report to Sanddollar. Based on that report from DrKayak posted by Sanddollar, it appears that DrKayak and SandyBottom have averaged 2.932 mph during 11:30 am to 2:10 pm. What does that mean? It is good news when compared to my earlier guesstimate that "...they will have to paddle at least 2.91 mph nonstop for 23 hours to arrive by noon."

Standing by for further news.

I will be on the beach to warmly welcome congratulate these intrepid WaterTribe challengers.