I should call this my “current top twelve” list. I hope to add a few more long distance races to the list in the coming years. You might wonder what the attraction is in doing shorter races when you have done the longest races in the world. Although a race may be substantially less than 1,000 miles, it always makes up for it in the intensity level. Every ultra-distance race has its own personality and nuances. My goal is always to win a race, not to just finish it. It is very tough to show up at an established race like the Yukon River Quest or the Missouri River 340 and win. You are always up against paddlers who have multiple years of racing experience on that particular river. But, I do like a challenge . . .Rod Price
I do not know if I will ever compete in an event as long and far as the 1,200 mile UFC again. Steve Isaac, founder of the WaterTribe, has devised a race around Florida that truly lives up to its name. In the 2012 edition, just the first 300 miles of the challenge were tougher than any other event on my list. A 1,200 mile race is going to be difficult under any conditions, but factor in weather as the "wild card" and anything is possible. Find a way to do this challenge and do it soon! There may not be enough crazy people on the planet for the UFC to remain a viable race. My Challenge experience is chronicled in my new book, "Racing Around Florida."Read my blog about the Ultimate Florida Challenge
Anytime you can go to the Yukon - you should go. The Yukon River is a spectacular venue for the world's longest canoe and kayak race (the UFC is classified as a small-boat race). It was extra special that Ardie Olson and I won the inaugural race in the canoe division and established a record that still stands. A week-long race down the historic Yukon River with hundreds of miles of unspoiled wilderness is an experience that you will never forget. This is another race that has gone to an every-other-year format due to few entries. Don't wait too long - it might not be around. Details of my race are in my first book, "Racing to the Yukon."Read about the Yukon 1000
At 460 miles, the YRQ is less than half as long as the Yukon 1000, but it easily makes up for it with its level of competition. A lot of serious racers enter this race and you better expect to paddle hard for the entire event. One lesson I learned - make sure you have a support crew. There is a mandatory seven-hour break at the town of Carmacks. I was racing without a support person and was too worried about over-sleeping so I failed to get any sleep at all. My article about the race, "A Rude Awakening on the Yukon" appeared in Canoe News and can be found on my website. The race ends in historic Dawson City, which was at the center of the 1896 gold rush. Try to spend at least a day here after the race and be sure to have a "Sour Toe Cocktail."Read my blog about the Yukon River Quest
In many ways, this was my baptism by fire into the ranks of multi-day expedition racing. I paddled with Mike Gutierrez from south Florida in a racing canoe that was modified to include a sail and outriggers. We endured headwinds, a leaking spray skirt, navigational errors and sleep deprivation to finish the 300-mile challenge in just under five days. This is the WaterTribe's main event. If you cannot be in the race, try to watch the start from Ft. Desoto beach. There are over 100 canoes, kayaks, SUPs and small sailboats that are hoping to reach Key Largo in eight days or less.Read my blog about the Everglades Challenge
Chesapeake Light Craft sponsored Marty Sullivan and I for this event. We picked a triple kayak from their catalogue and spent two months building it. This challenge was the opposite of 2003. With me pushing the pace, Marty's accurate navigation and favorable weather conditions, we set a record in the class I division that still stands - 3 days, 6 hours, 30 minutes. The CLC triple kayak provides a nice combination of speed and stability for a wide range of water conditions.Read my blog about the Everglades Challenge
Ardie Olson (Cumming, GA) and I used the EC to toughen us up for the Yukon 1000 in July of 2009. We paddled my CLC triple kayak. Our objective was to finish the challenge in under three days. Headwinds on the second day put an end to that goal. It was so windy that as we approached Marco Island, I noticed an elderly couple walking on the beach at a faster pace than we were traveling. But those headwinds also slowed up the sailboats. Ardie and I finished with a time of 3 days, 11 hours, 55 minutes. We won our class and ended up in the second overall position. One sailboat beat us. All three of my Everglades Challenge experiences are chronicled in "Racing to the Yukon."Read my blog about the Everglades Challenge
As race director for the SRC, I wanted to do something special for the tenth anniversary of the race. I decided to add a two-day stage race totaling 102 miles to the regular 52 and 26 mile races. My favorite section of the Suwannee River is the Fargo, GA to White Springs run. Unfortunately, the river was in a drought stage in 2011 and we were forced to go downriver of White Springs to find enough water to float our boats. I paddled with Paul Cox in my Kevlar standard racing canoe. There were eight other paddlers in solo canoes or kayaks. By the end of the second day, only four boats finished the race. Paul and I posted a time of 17:31:35.Check out the Suwannee River Challenge website
Dave Knothe and I journeyed to the Outer Banks for this 100-mile WaterTribe event. We were happy to be paddling my triple kayak as we struggled to make our way up the Neuse River against gusting headwinds. Dave and I were the second boat to make it to the checkpoint at mile 44, but after nightfall we had some navigational problems and decided to camp on Harker's Island. In the morning we found our way around the island and on to the finish in a time of 1 day, 7 hours, 38 minutes. The WaterTribe has added a 300-mile NC Challenge that I hope to enter next year.
I was part of a four-person, all-Florida team that traveled to Iquitos, Peru for the world's longest raft race. On their website, they claim the distance is over 130 miles for the three-day stage race, but its actually less than 90 miles. But what's a few miles when you get to build your own raft out of precut balsa logs and paddle your way down the Great Amazon River. The Florida Four came in fifth out of 45 teams from 11 different countries. Even though the local bacteria caught up with me, I hope to return sometime. My detailed account of the trip can be found in "Racing to the Yukon."
I have made seven trips to Upstate New York for the 90 Miler. The ACC is a three-day stage race through the winding lakes and rivers among the Adirondack Mountains. There is about 5 1/2 miles of portages in the race and you better get your legs in shape if you want to win this race. I am most proud of my three consecutive wins in the tandem, stock canoe division with three different partners. The C-4 division has emerged as the most competitive class. I finished second in the men's C-4 in 2011. This is one of my favorite racing venues. I look forward to seeing the Adirondacks again.