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VIDEO: A Really Great Big Story

Published on December 15th, 2016

The Race to Alaska (R2K) is a unique 750-mile marathon open to all forms of non-motorized craft. Entrants can have no support of any type; it’s like the Iditarod but on a boat.

More than 50 teams began the challenge in June. For those seeking victory, they needed only to avoid drowning, freighters, killer whales, and grizzly bears to win the $10,000 award. For the runner-up, a set of steak knives was their prize. For everyone else, completion was their honor.

Three paralyzed men competed in the 2016 edition to prove they have what it takes to finish. A film by Great Big Films, made in collaboration with CNN Films, shares their story.

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Stage 1: Port Townsend, WA to Victoria BC (40 miles)
It all begins June 23 with an initial race across open water, two sets of shipping lanes, and an international border. The first stage is designed as a qualifier for the full race and as a stand-alone 40 mile sprint for people who just want to put their toe in. Racers continuing on will clear Canadian customs in Victoria. Stage one winners get to bask in the glory for a full day and a half.

Stage 2: Victoria BC to Ketchikan, AK (710 miles)
There’s no time splits from the qualifier that roll over when the fleet starts in Victoria on June 26. The race for the prizes – real or imagined – is getting to Ketchikan. For those that lag, they risk getting tapped out by the sweep boat which heads north along the course as a rolling disqualifier. Any competitor the sweep boat passes is out of the race. Other than two waypoints at Seymour Narrows and Bella Bella, there is no official course. To quote the bard: You can go your own way.

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