My kayak on a Mercer Island beach on my first trip around

I’m often looking for a way to challenge myself and last year while listening to a Beer on the Run podcast, I found something that will push my limits. Jack and Clint were interviewing Joel Ballezza, mostly about his running and the ultras he’s done, but at one point, the conversation turned to a kayak race he tried last summer. In this race, individuals or teams take human-powered boats seventy miles from Tacoma to Port Townsend in less than 48 hours. With all the creativity I expect to have at the end of the event, they called it the Seventy48. Joel described it as cold and mentally difficult. He had to DNF due to hypothermia concerns. It sounded miserable… I had to try it.

I’ve paddled kayaks all my life. My dad did several research trips to Alaska when I was only a few years old and they were all sea kayak-based. When I was about five, he got a kit to build a kids kayak. We all worked on it (I helped as much as a five-year-old can) and then I started paddling that on trips to lakes and rivers around Florida and Ohio. As my brother and I got older, we started doing family canoe camping trips in Ontario. In college, I got into whitewater kayaking and had fun exploring the rivers of Oregon. When I graduated, my parents gave me a sea kayak to continue exploring the Pacific Northwest. Even with all that paddling experience, I had never paddled more than 10-12 miles in one day. Seventy miles just sounds insane.

Exploring with my expert navigator

I was very nervous and doubtful of my ability to paddle that far. I decided at the end of last summer that I would attempt to paddle around Mercer Island in Lake Washington. If I could make the ~13 mile trip, I would sign up and start training. It took me about three hours and felt pretty good. I signed up… and promptly stopped paddling until the new year.

In February and March, I started training a bit more seriously. The challenge was finding time to get out on the water without feeling like I was leaving all the child care responsibilities to my wife. Luckily I found that if I offered treats, Avery was very excited about exploring Lake Washington with me. We stopped for coffee/steamers, cake pops, and french fries. We even discovered Tommy the Turtle and had to say hi anytime we were near.

Gotta stop for food

I wanted one more long distance paddle before the race and realized my parents lived just far enough away to make it interesting. I drove over to Redmond, dropped Avery off, put my boat in the water and over the next five hours, I paddled the 27 miles home. It felt pretty good and I was able to move around without any issues the next day. I’ve got a little over 24 hours until the start. I’m trained, I plotted my route (see below), I’ve got lights for night paddling. I think I’m ready. What could possibly go wrong?

Update: 3 hours until the start. You’ll be able to track here. I’m team 8, Drowned Chipmunk:

Now that it’s done, you can also read the race report.

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6 Responses to Seventy48

  1. Janine boire says:

    Nice team name! Looking forward to welcoming you to port Townsend!

  2. Pingback: Seventy48 Race Report | A Boise Runner's Ramblings

  3. Pingback: My experience at ToorCamp | A Runner's Ramblings

  4. Pingback: Seventy48 Training Begins… again | A Runner's Ramblings

  5. Pingback: Running without racing | A Runner's Ramblings

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