FL Coast to Coast
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Florida Coast to Coast Adventure Race 2002

220 Miles across Florida, Kayaking, Biking, and Trekking

 

Out of all the races that I have competed in I believe this multi-day eco adventure race was the most challenging both physically and mentally.  I must issue a disclaimer with this report, because some of the distances in this race are still not known and my brain is still a bit fuzzy.

 

The course started in the Florida Barge Canal at Crystal River near the Gulf of Mexico and finished in Daytona Beach on the Atlantic Ocean. The official course was 220 miles but since we did make some navigational errors we most likely added 20 to 30 more miles to the overall distance.  A five member support crew who would meet us at most of the Check Points supported our 2-person team.  They handled transitions for us. i.e. nourishments, fluids, taping our feet and for me applying ice packs to various parts of my body to cool me off during the longer bike rides. Basically they repaired our bodies, acted as coaches, mothers, and supporters as we pushed on.  Our motto though out this race was to "compete to complete" and with out their help we could not have finished.

 

Kayaking, trail biking, and trekking through Florida is challenging but made even tougher when each leg take between 5 and 7 hours to complete. We ending up in the Kayak 5 times, on the bike 4 times, and trekked 3 different times.

 

I would like to take a moment and offer a few thanks along the way.  First I would like to thank that little 9-year-old boy at the convenience store who yelled to me, "Doesn't it suck being lost?"  I hope you step in a bunch of gum! I would also like to thank that SWAT team of South Florida who we passed several times on the course and whom we found lost on the night biking trails, what a confidence builder that was for us, we knew exactly were we were.  Next, special thanks to all the damn alligators in the rivers and swamps. I know you're scary but do you really have to bump our kayak at night with your big bodies, or do you just like to hear me yell "holy cow".  To all of the teams, who believe in the great Racing Gods, thank you for allowing me to find my partner after we were separated on the trails at night for over an hour, its very lonely out there.  Man, was that close. Finally I want to thank my brain, even though I saw a fruit stand while biking on some 90 degree country road only to realize its a mirage and a l989 orange Bronco for sale when I rode up to it, my mind never quit on me but it will be a while before its right again.

 

My family and friends have ask me if I plan on doing this again next year and I will tell you that if my decision is due today the answer is NO but I'm sure by next year I will only remember the good stuff. Finally special thanks to my wife who never doubted my abilities and who offered me encouragement during all of my weeks of training.

 

Now its time to patch my feet and start running again.

 

Craig O'Neal -- Team Swamp Dogs

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