Before the eastern sky could begin to turn grey, four-time Olympic medalist Greg Barton and his teammate Kevin Olney of Team Epic crossed the finish line as the first winners of the inaugural SEVENTY48; a self-supported, human-powered boat race between Tacoma, WA and Port Townsend, WA. The team pulled in around 3:09 AM, taking a mere 9 hours and 39 minutes to complete the 70 mile course. That averages to over 7 miles per hour.
The team credits their success to the work they put in before the race. “We trained really well,” said Olney. Before the race, the team ran portions of the course during the night in order to prepare themselves for the low light conditions. “Paddling a surf ski in the dark in rough water is kind of nerve-racking the first time.”
Fortunately, most of the night had ideal paddling conditions. It wasn’t until the last 10 miles of the race that Olney and Barton faced some wind and waves. “With all the spray coming off the waves my eyes were full of salt…I could barely see [Barton] to match his stroke,” said Olney.
Olney gave some advice to future racers, “If you want to be great for 10 hours you have to put in 1,000 hours of work. Or just get in a boat with an Olympian.”
Seventy48 is hosted by the Northwest Maritime Center, based in Port Townsend. They are a non-profit that works to engage and educate people of all ages in maritime experiences. For more information about the race, go to http://www.Seventy48.com.