2021 Race to Alaska: also cancelled
Published on December 27th, 2020
In 2020 we witnessed the Canadian border drop like a guillotine on the neck of Race to Alaska. Since our imprisonment, we at high command have watched the world tear itself apart in an effort to put itself back together more COVID-resilient.
However, the border is still closed and the communities along the Race to Alaska race route remain fragile and do not want us anywhere near their shores. And we have no desire to be their Grim Reaper.
Last year, in an effort to predict the future, we threw ourselves out of an airplane with a mess of wet tealeaves and it told us nothing. Now we think the plane has COVID and we are staying 6 feet from the runway.
This year, the truth isn’t going to be found in a fortune teller. Race to Alaska needs to be vaccinated and we are low on the list of U.S. recipients. No borders opening, no health assurances, giant swaths of people refusing to wear masks or keep at prescribed social distances.
R2AK is not running in 2021. So what do you do when Race to Alaska has been shot in the heart, not once, but twice? What do you do when you are dumped by Canada?
Have fun just in sight. Toss your hair back and head to Point Roberts. Make out with San Juan Island while Vancouver is watching. We’re running a race in 2021, and it’s called WA360.
That’s pronounced Washington360 if you’re stumbling a little. It’s the longest race of its kind in Washington and, much like its Alaskan counterpart, engineless, unsupported, and 360 miles through the best and worst conditions Washington waters have to offer. It’s like R2AK with less bears and more hospitals, and SEVENTY48, but longer and more absurd (SEVENTY48 is still a go in 2021).
We even came up with a cool by-line: “COVID conscious, logistically light, and demands all the skill, tenacity and patience you can muster.” You can find more information on the website. The application goes live January 15.
We here are not blind to the tragic, horrible, unprecedented and savage results COVID has wreaked on peoples around the world, nor the severe hardship and mental strain COVID leaves in its wake.
Like with R2AK, we hope, among many things, WA360 is a moment to leave other realities behind and rediscover the strength and resilience we each hold within ourselves so we may return to a world, in whatever form of disarray we left, and help make it better.
Race to Alaska is not going away. Fortunately, the Inside Passage doesn’t give a damn when we show up, and its taunting invitation is perpetual.
It’s time to get on the water, obey COVID rules, respect one another, and push the envelope once again. Let’s celebrate the best of what we have in the ways we know how. Let’s go adventuring.
Learn more about WA360 here.
What was to be in 2020:
Race to Alaska, now in its 6th year, follows the same general rules which launched this madness. No motor, no support, through wild frontier, navigating by sail or peddle/paddle (but at some point both) the 750 cold water miles from Port Townsend, Washington to Ketchikan, Alaska.
To save people from themselves, and possibly fulfill event insurance coverage requirements, the distance is divided into two stages. Anyone that completes the 40-mile crossing from Port Townsend to Victoria, BC can pass Go and proceed. Those that fail Stage 1 go to R2AK Jail. Their race is done. Here was the 2020 plan:
Stage 1 Race start: June 8 – Port Townsend, Washington
Stage 2 Race start: June 11 – Victoria, BC
There is $10,000 if you finish first, a set of steak knives if you’re second. Cathartic elation if you can simply complete the course. R2AK is a self-supported race with no supply drops and no safety net. Any boat without an engine can enter.
In 2019, there were 48 starters for Stage 1 and 37 finishers. Of those finishers, 35 took on Stage 2 of which 10 were tagged as DNF.
Source: Race to Alaska