There is still one final trip that ends our WaterTribe Ultimate Challenge adventure, returning the Kruger Cruiser to Mark Przedwojewski (ManitouCruser), owner of Kruger Canoes. Alan and I will leave Friday evening for a quick weekend road trip to Michigan.
Mark was so incredibly generous to lend us one of his Krugers for the month, but, that’s just the way he is. The Cruiser really took care of us on the obstacle course of the St Mary’s River with all its downed trees, strainers, and shallow waters. On the Suwannee River it took great care of us allowing us to keep our lead which we worked hard to maintain.
I am convinced the only boat for a long challenge like that is one that keeps you dry and comfortable, and that’s just what Kruger’s are famous for. We’d chosen Alan’s designed and home built trimaran Mosquito for the open water sections on the Gulf and Atlantic (not a very dry ride), but the Cruiser was perfect for us on the 4th and toughest stage of our race on the River’s. It’s the longest stage, consisting of 90 miles upstream on the St. Mary’s River, a 40-mile portage from St. George to Fargo, 220 miles downstream on the Suwannee River, and a final 20 miles to Cedar Key for a grand total of over 370 miles.
Mark, a well respected and decorated (sharks, alligator, and whales tails) member of WaterTribe, also hosts his own small boat adventure races called “The Michigan Challenge” this June, there are choices in distances and routes. Check it out here. The only think keeping me from this race is June. But there's always next year.
If your still wanting more about the Ultimate Challenge, Marty Sullivan (SaltyFrog among the Tribe) has posted an article on the forum that sums up some of all of our experiences nicely. He titled it “UFC Carnage”, check it out here. Carnage describes this year’s event quite well. The statistics really speak to this, only 3 of 11 boats finished the UltraMarathon, 17 of 55 finished the Everglades Challenge, and 4 of 11 boats starting finished the Ultimate Challenge. It was a very rough year with 24 of 78 boats having success (31%).
I also hear there may be another book written. Rod Price who completed the challenge under the Tribal name of RiverSlayer (website here) is planning to write a book about the history of WaterTribe and this years Ultimate Challenge. He’s written a book before about his race and win with Ardie Olson (Ardio) in the Yukon 1000 Canoe and Kayak Race (a race KiwiBird and I still think about). And of course I love Warren Richey's (SharkChow) book ‘Without a Paddle’ of the 2006 Ultimate (which I also paddled and finished), this book an interesting mix of both love story and adventure.
Personally I find it difficult after an event to sit down and write about it, I tend to be the type that looks forwards not backwards, and am always planning and working toward my next adventure. But there's lots to tell, many interesting and even funny stories from this Challenge. I’ll try and find the time over the next couple of months after I have a chance to look at all our pictures and videos.
So what’s next? Well after this weeks trip to Michigan, it's looking like another circumnavigation of Bald Head Island week after next. This is a trip I did in 2009 with friends who are interested in doing it again. The post I wrote about that trip can be found here. Some trips are worth the repeat, and this one will get me back in my NKD Explorer and at the coast. It’s all good.