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Expedition-style race begins

MARCH 7 — A group of sailors, kayakers and canoeists set off last Saturday on a 30-day, 1,200-mile race around Florida.

Competitors in the first Ultimate Florida Challenge (dubbed by its organizers the “toughest expedition-style small boat race in the world”) are risking sleep deprivation and exhaustion in their bid to be the fastest to circumnavigate Florida. The race began from FortDeSotoBeach on the Gulf of Mexico.

The Ultimate Florida Challenge is potentially so tough “nobody really knows if [it] is even do-able,” race organizer Steve Isaac says in a news report. “I won’t be surprised if no one finishes.”

Fifty boaters set off on the first 300-mile leg of the race, known as the Everglades Challenge, south to Key Largo. Only 10 of those competitors plan to press on north up the AtlanticCoast and back across the state by river to the Gulf.

The competitors will also have to find a way to transport themselves and their boats 40 miles across land between the St. Mary’s River in St. George and the SuwanneeRiver in Fargo. According to the race rules, competitors can use whatever means necessary to make the land passage, as long as it is human-powered and as long as the necessary equipment is carried with them during the entire race.

— Jason Fell