We cover a lot of endurance events here on The Adventure Blog, with most of them focusing around running, cycling, or mountain biking along remote trails in beautiful locations. But this summer a completely new, and unique event, will take place in the Pacific Northwest, as the inaugural Race to Alaska prepares to get underway. In this event, competitors won’t be traveling on foot or bike however, as they’ll instead be challenged to sail, row, or paddle their way along the route.
This 750 mile (1190 km) long event will get underway from Townsend, Washington – located not far from Seattle – on June 4. Participants will proceed up the coast, with the eventual finish line located in Ketchikan, Alaska. Along the way, competitors will face fierce winds, cold conditions, potentially large storms, and turbulent waves. How they deal with those conditions, and exactly which route they take along the way, is completely up to them, as navigational choices will certainly play a role in determining the eventual winner.
There are ten classes of boats that are allowed to compete in the Race to Alaska, none of which are motorized. Those boats include multi-hull sail boats and row boats, kayaks, and even stand-up paddleboards. Exactly which means of transportation will be the best choice remains to be seen, as the sailboats have an edge when the wind is blowing, but if the winds are calm, other vessels may have an opportunity to steal the win.
The first stage of the race, which runs from Townsend to Victoria, Vancouver in Canada, serves as qualifier of sorts. All of the racers must cover that 40 mile distance in 36 hours or less, or they will be disqualified. If they complete this initial challenge however, they’ll be allowed to continue on to Ketchikan. There are currently 23 boats competing in the race, which is an impressive turnout for the first running of an event of this type. It’ll be interesting to see how the competition unfolds, and who ends up taking home the victory.
I heard about this really unique event from Steve Price, who is one of the competitors on Team Angus. He, along with teammate Colin Angus, will be taking to the water in a specially designed rowboat. Their plan is to take turns at the oars, going 24-hours a day in 2 hour shifts. Since calm weather is expected, the team duo feels like it has a real shot to win the race, even over the sailboats.
We’re just a couple of weeks away from the start of this race, and it should certainly be interesting. Good luck to all the competitors, and enjoy the journey.
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