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March 23, 2021

Sea 2 Sea - Guest Post by Randy Kerperien

Randy Kerperien, Jason Nance, and Vinny Burke recently completed a grueling 72-hour adventure rate (paddling, biking, and trekking) across Florida. Instead of trying to recap the event, Randy shared his experience. It's a wild, inspiring, and interesting read! Couldn't be prouder of these guys!

-Started with a 3-mile walk....we were nearly DFL (dead fucking last).
-Once we got to our bikes, I dipped into the woods to use the facilities and was quickly introduced to some sharp-ass thorns. Came out of the woods, bleeding on both legs. 30 mins in, blood.
-Vinny was so excited to get on the bike and pass everyone that was in front of us, we had to remind him to put his helmet on!
-0.5 miles into the ride we went off-road. Pre-race, Jason stressed how important it was to stay dry for as long as we could. I promptly rode through 3 large mud puddles, with the third one being about 2 feet deep and I ate shit. 45 mins into the race, bleeding and soaked.
-With Vinny and Jason leading the way, we plowed through the first bike leg at an average pace of 17 MPH....that would catch up to us on day 3.
-We had to go walk down a trail to get a checkpoint. It was on a dock that led to a fresh spring. I took the opportunity to jump in and enjoy the spring (and clean off the blood and mud). It was amazing! So much so, that I jumped in a second time.
-The first day was long & hot! After a ruck, we had to head back onto the bikes for a LONG ride that would take us through the night and into the morning. We were getting ready to head out for the bike, I think it was around 2000 hours. I started getting hives!! Race could've been over right here. Talked with my teammates and we made the executive decision to have me take Benadryl and power through as best I could. Let me tell you, riding a bicycle in the dark while on 75 mg of Benadryl is a TRIP!! At one point, Jason had to tie the 550 cord to his seat post attach it to my stem, and pull me. I don't remember how long we did this, but I was billed 12 PBRs for my tow. 1000% worth it. This was our first real challenge of facing adversity. Around 3:00 am (somewhere around Clermont) the Benadryl wore off and I started feeling pretty good. Oh, at some point a juvenile cow chased us.
-Towards the end of the ride we were led into some deep woods by the Race Director. Thankfully, we found some other racers and we sort of piggybacked on them as we all trekked through some thick-ass woods while towing our bikes. At one point we had to cross a chest-deep canal with our gear and bikes over our heads. (Shit was too easy thanks to all my shoulder to overhead presses).
-The last 7-9 miles of this particular bike leg was brutal. Sugar sand for days, hot as hell, trying to keep up with other racers who were sort of leading the way.
-Finally made it to TA2 and absolutely crashed out. I think we all slept for about 2 hours, just on the ground with our mats. There was hot food and tents at this TA, so that was a nice treat. We snagged a tent for the night. But, before sleep, we had a trek and a canoe to complete.
-Canoeing was a fiasco at first, but we got settled in after a while and figured it out. We worked out the kinks before our 28-mile canoe the next day, which made the second canoe actually enjoyable.
-During our night hike, I discovered that the thousands of green shiny lights I was seeing everywhere in the woods were actually was so cool, thousands and thousands of spiders.
-We got back into our tent for the night and had a plan to sleep for a few hours and then get up and be on the water for our long canoe by 0400. We got settled in for bed around 2300. Unfortunately, Vinny couldn't sleep and it was a restless night for him. Jason and I were pretty frustrated at the time, but looking back I really felt for Vinny. Looking back, I can't imagine how frustrated he must have been. He was exhausted and couldn't settle in...But in true Vinny fashion, he powered through like the GD champ he is. I think he will admit it definitely had a detrimental effect on him towards the end of the race.
-We ended up getting on the water by around 0500. It was tough to navigate in the dark. Once the sun came up we all got a little re-energized and had an amazing paddle. We collected all the checkpoints, except 1 or 2 I think. We really got into a rhythm on the paddle and cruised through. It was one of the most enjoyable legs of the race for me.
-Once we got off the water we had a hike ahead of us...I had no dry socks. Thank you Vinny for saving my life!!! I don't remember much of the hike except Vinny is a damn homing pigeon and it was hot! We collected a lot of checkpoints and finally made it TA3 and got to have some hot food and some Cokes. We had a huge bike ride coming up that was going to take us into the late evening.
-We rode about 8-10 miles or so to a mountain bike course where we could go through and take selfies with our cell phones at 3 distinct points to collect another checkpoint. There were 3 trails, expert, moderate, and easy. We went in that order. This is my experience, the expert course was sooo much fun, but it took a lot out of us. The moderate course was also fun, but we were getting progressively tired. The easy course just pissed us all off! We were exhausted, it was getting dark and we had to get out of the park before dark. Once we finally exited the park and made it back to the entry point (Vinny, again homing pigeon, got us out by traveling along some train tracks) we just lay on the ground in exhaustion. Here is where it got tough. We still had about 50 miles to go and it was going on 1900. We had a little pow-wow, pulled up the bootstraps, and headed out.
-We skipped a lot of checkpoints on the last ride, our goal was simply to get to the final TA to rest before setting ourselves up for the big finish. Everyone was spent, Jason's hip and knee were killing him, Vinny was on fumes from no rest, and we were coming up on 60+ hours of going non-stop. Teamwork definitely got us to the final TA. Somehow I felt pretty good throughout the final leg and pulled for 5-mile stretches as we slowly knocked off the mileage. We got a psychological boost when we realized we were about 20 miles closer to the TA than we thought on the map. We finally pulled into the final TA around 2345. It was time to crash for a few hours before finishing a final 2-mile trek and about a 35-mile bike to the finish.
-We slept on the ground and we were out cold! However, when we woke up that's when all the bad news hit us. Around 0300 a team of 3 was hit by a motorist and tragically one racer lost his life. The race was effectively stopped at 0345 and they began pulling all the racers off the course.
-This is the point when I was most proud of us. We were just handed a no-excuses bailout to end the race right here, right now. No one would ever blame us for calling it quits, no one could question us, we would've had no choice but to quit. For anyone that knows us, that's not how we are wired. After working through all the possible scenarios, which included: having our wives come pick us up, waiting for the trucks to take us back to the finish, or simply going back to sleep....we decided on checking out the maps and creating an alternate route to get around the US1 road closure and get back on the course and finish!
-We turned in our GPS tracker, Vinny charted us a course with Jason's help and we headed out. On our way out of the TA, a van tried to stop us and Jason slammed on his brakes nearly creating a 3-bike pile-up! Once we dismissed the race staff we maneuvered around the police closure on US1 and were on our way. It was pretty smooth sailing from here on out (minus our raw asses and fatigued legs).
-Our last checkpoint was at St. Augustine Pier. We had to gather sand from the east coast (we started with sand from the west coast). I convinced the boys to jump in the ocean with me. Despite the chilly water, it was one of the highlights of the race. We were on the doorstep of finishing and the ocean reinvigorated us to just get there!
-After a final 6 miles or so, we finally made it to the finish line. We were the only ones to finish after the race stoppage. Kim, Alyssa Lucie, Claire, and Emily were all waiting for us at the finish line. I'll be honest, I shed a few tears and there would have been many more, but I didn't want to frighten Claire, lol! It was just a physical and emotional release 72 hours in the making.

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