It is billed as the toughest expedition-style small boat race in the world. The Ultimate Florida Challenge is an all-out circumnavigation of Florida open to canoes, sailboats, and sea kayaks. Twelve hundred miles of adrenaline and dread.
This is a race so tough they don't even call it a race. It is more a dare. Or threat.
In March 2006, ten challengers pushed off a beach at Tampa Bay and began a round-the-clock struggle to make it back to the same beach without first becoming nourishment for some large, toothy creature. To beat the thirty-day deadline, they must paddle or sail, day and night, through storms and blazing sun, in boats about the size of a coffin.
Among the ten mariners is a 50-year-old divorced dad who takes up the challenge in a sea kayak. He doesn't know if he can make it all the way around, or even halfway to Lostman's River.
Then, out there alone on the water, something strange starts to happen.
"As in the best of adventure literature, the physical journey in Without a Paddle is merely a portal through which Richey guides the reader on a voyage across the ocean of the heart. Read it. Go with him. It's a trip you'll never forget."
--Mark Jenkins, author of A Man's Life: Dispatches from Dangerous Places
"In his great paddle around Florida, Warren Richey braced for battle against sharks, pythons, and crazed drunken motorboaters, but his most formidable foe turned out to be middle-aged self-doubt. This book is for anyone who believes in the redemptive value of hard physical challenge, and who believes that age is just a number."
--Mark Obmascik, author of Halfway to Heaven; My White-knuckled -- and Knuckleheaded -- Quest for the Rocky Mountain High, winner of the 2009 National Outdoor Book Award
"This is the best kind of book; the kind that makes every day magical. I loved it for its humor and humility, its wonderful parables and pitch-perfect storytelling, its journey of discovery within and without, and its elegant ending."
--Kim Heacox, author of The Only Kayak: A Journey in the Heart of Alaska
"Warren Richey wields a pen like he maneuvers his kayak -- rapidly paced, lively, dipping between Florida lore, the wake of a failed marriage, the promise of love ahead, and the innumerable challenges of a race that can only be described as insane."
--Franz Wisner, author of How the World Makes Love
Author Readings and Signings:
Friday and Saturday Starting Line
March 2 and 3 Florida and Everglades Challenges
Fort DeSoto Park
St. Petersburg, Fla.
Tuesday Colony Cottage Recreation Center
March 6 510 Colony Boulevard
2 p.m. The Villages, Fla.
Thursday Florida Trail Association
March 8 Central Florida Chapter
6:30 p.m. Leu Gardens
1920 N. Forest Avenue
Friday and Saturday Everglades Challenge, Finish Line
March 9 and 10 Bay Cove Motel
All Day 99446 Overseas Hwy.
Key Largo, Fla.
Content copyright . Warren Richey. All rights reserved.