by John Knippers
***** RACE RECAP: "Last Paddler Standing" *****
First of ALL, MAHALO everyone involved in this crazy race. Whether it be the directors, volunteers, the elite endurance racers from across the globe, to the thousands of people who were following it through the 48hrs of livestream via SUP Racer, FB live, and on YouTube Live! *MAHALO NUI LOA!!!
**************** BONUS! ****************
The FINAL 12 hours are still on YouTube if anyone wonders what it was like & would like to watch it!
(*I'll attach a link in the picture of the livestream!)
The EVENT was truly something extraordinary, and I am SO grateful to have been a player who made it until the end (2nd to "LAST PADDLER STANDING").
*This meant i had made 47 laps around the course, a 3.33 mile loop an hour, & eventually surrendering to an extraordinary pro paddleboarder from Italy, Paolo Marconi... AND what an honor it was to share the last few hours of this thing together! He is a STRONG, inspirational, SOLID athlete & Father!
(NOW A LITTLE BIT OF MY TAKE ON THE EVENT)
Sleep deprivation, fatigue, paddling alongside an accomplished group of ultra distance racers ALL set on winning... IT was MENTAL beyond MENTAL!
AND on that 44th hour, when it was down to just me and Paolo on our second exhausting night out there... well wouldnt ya know an approximately 5 ft gator surfaces about 40ft in front of me right on my course under the moonlight. (*AND I'm on an inflatable LOL). Talk about mental. Needless to say though I paddled another three laps around the course until it was the "proper" time to surrender.
****** Some might ask why did i surrender? ******
Well, let me explain... it had been 47 hours and 45 minutes, 150+ miles no current w/ headwinds, and at that point i was exhausted. Plus, had the event gone one more lap, the loop would be increased to 4.9 miles, a distance that after 48hrs pretty much no sleep, seemed inconceivable to do more than once. In addition, i really just didn't have enough gas in the tank to give Paolo a run for his money & why add more time to my recovery?! So here I am today approximately 10 days later, thankful I made that decision, because although i'm pretty much recovered, I do still have numbness in my toes which will probably take some time to get normal.
That being said, I'm SO grateful to be the "ASSIST"!
* (Now for the LONG LIST of MAHALO's.) *
First of ALL, Greg Wingo, race director, organizer and brainchild of this AWESOME event that will be no doubt filling up quick come January for 2023.
QuickBlade Paddles, the paddle i used for almost 48hrs, had the perfect flex, & i didnt get one blister! Yster SUP, the official board sponsor of the 2022 LPS, who allowed me to fly there for a proper 48 hours testing the new incredible linear 17'3 x 26 touring ISUP... *(Swedish designer Per, if you see this post, I'd be honored to do some more testing, wink wink lol). Mason Gravley of Athletic Brewing Company, who not only helped w/ the commentary provided TOP shelf non-alcoholic brew for the guests & even athletes all throughout the event...
*(Note: As someone who doesnt drink alcohol anymore, but did however in the past enjoy IPA... they actually had a delicious non alcoholic option)
ALSO, thank you to the AMAZING Volunteers who helped pull this all off together, as well as the BRAVE racers & friends from around the globe who participated in this never been done before crazy ordeal. To my RAD brother, Mark Knippers, who continually backs me up in these wild paddle ultras. The LPS racers & friends who paddled 12 hours like Tracy Cullinane & Patrick B. then hung around for the rest of the event showered me w/ ALOHA & then treated me like a KING afterwords. Josette Lata (who also paddled 12 hours) and hubby Eddy Okinsky, who 2/3rds into the race announced VIA the livestream they were giving me a new 14' raceboard for being inspiring. THATS JUST CRAZY AWESOME, AND i'M SO GRATEFUL!
Göran Gustavsson, one of my fierce competitors from Sweden who not only did I enjoy paddling 40 hours & laps with, was also blessed to hang out with for 2 following days there. Then there was Bobby Johnson, 2 time winner and LEGEND of one of the toughest races in the world, "The Great Alabama 650"... This guy, is possibly the fastest ultra distance surfski guys on the planet, had only been SUP'ing a few weeks before the race, & "What an honor it was to paddle with ya Bobby"! Alexis Somoano, you as well my friend... And lookout if your thinking of doing it next year... he WILL be a contender i know in 2023 something fierce. Huge thanks to my next door neighbor and friend, Chad Blackman... who looked after my first mate paddle dog Jericho here at the house while & i was out of town. THAT WAS HUGE! Krystal @ Country Pets Bed & Breakfast who runs a TOP notch kennel on a ranch outside of town and always takes good care of the rest of my furballs (Zeus, Zoe, Sup, & Koa).
Then, the BIGGEST Thank you of ALL AWARD has gotta go to Mike Dodd an old friend rom Hawaii, and Efrat Almog, who really came through there in Sarasota! Besides just being in my camp hollering encouragement, or as I would paddle under the bridge on the loop, the many vulnerable times too when I really felt like quitting! They periodically would bring me coffee, a taco, burger, or tasty treat that could break the monotony of my normal routine of vacuum sealed spinach, sweet potato, sprouted quinoa, dark choc, Blueberry, banana, beet powder, "nutrition bar stuff" I typically make for these ultras, just get tired of it after 24 hrs LOL.
And last but not least Chris Parker, Kelly Margetts, & Kristin Thomas for encouragement throughout the 48 hour, never been done before LIVESTREAM!
Y'all knocked it out of the park keeping thousands of friends, family, and people entertained across the globe & in the "LOOP", (so to speak LOL). ALL DAY ALL NIGHT on this WILD CRAZY SUP EVENT!
*BIG MAHALO's to ALL the friends too who sent kind messages and congratulated me ALL week!
*Almsot forgot to mention USA SUP & TotalSUP...
(Thank you both for hyping up the event & sharing)
******* MAHALO NUI LOA EVERYONE!!! *********