PORT ANGELES, Washington (AP) ― After more than two weeks of paddling, Karl Kruger has become the first person to complete the 750-mile Race to Alaska on a standup paddleboard.
Kruger, 45, of Orcas Island, arrived in Ketchikan, Alaska after 14 days, 6 hours and 17 minutes paddling 710 miles (1,143 km) from Victoria, B.C. There he was reunited at the dock finish line with daughter Dagny and his wife, Jessica, who had been providing updates on her Facebook page throughout the race.
Kruger’s plan for the race was to paddle 100 miles per day to finish the Race to Alaska (R2AK) in a week, according to his R2AK team profile. While that didn’t quite work out, Kruger was still the first on a solely human-powered craft, and easily the smallest craft, to cross the finish line this year.
Kruger, aka Team Heart of Gold, finished the race ahead of several teams, including rowers, kayakers and a few small sailboats.
There were two other paddle-boarders in this year’s race, but they dropped out mid-race after a bout of the flu.
This year was Kruger’s second attempt to paddle the R2AK. Last year, he made it across the Strait of Juan de Fuca to Victoria but roughly 100 miles into the 710 miles to Ketchikan, his board broke and he was forced to quit.
This year was the R2AK’s third running. The race is organized by the Northwest Maritime Center and is open to all watercraft with one stipulation: There can be no engine. The race doesn’t have classes or handicaps, just $10,000 for the winner and for second place, a set of steak knives.
Team Pure and Wild won this year’s race at 3:05 p.m. June 15.