Karl Kruger reunited with his wife, Jessica, and daughter, Dagny, as he arrived Sunday on the dock in Ketchikan, Alaska as the first person to complete the 750-mile Race to Alaska on a paddle board. (Zach Carver/R2AK)

Orcas Island man becomes first ever to finish R2AK on paddle board

KETCHIKAN — After just over two weeks of paddling, Karl Kruger has become the first person to complete the 750-mile Race to Alaska on a stand-up paddle board.

Kruger, 45, of Orcas Island arrived in Ketchikan, Alaska, just after 5 p.m. Sunday after 14 days, 6 hours and 17 minutes after paddling 710-miles from Victoria, B.C. There he was reunited with his wife, Jessica, who had been providing updates on her Facebook page throughout the race, and daughter Dagny at the dock finish line.

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 is 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.

According to Jessica Kruger’s Facebook page, Karl Kruger packed light, eating mostly gel cubes and nutrient shakes. He was able to grab some real food on his way to Alaska — a burger in both Alert Bay and Bella Bella in British Columbia.

There were two other paddle boarders in this year’s race, Team Fueled On Stoke Part I and II, 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.

Coming in behind Kruger is Team Nomadica, which was expected to finish Monday night.

Team Rush Aweigh, KELP and Grace B were all sailing near British Columbia’s Porcher Island as of Monday afternoon.

Team VIZ Reporter and Rod Price Adventure, two solo paddlers who teamed up near Seymour Narrows last weekend, were also paddling north near Porcher Island.

Team Oaracle, two rowers, and Team Make It So are both past the halfway point at Bella Bella. Just behind them in last place is Dan Gilbert of Team GAR, who was sailing and peddling north along Hunter Island on Monday afternoon.

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 &Wild won this year’s race at 3:05 p.m. June 15, only six minutes before Team Big Broderna.


Jefferson County Editor/Reporter Cydney McFarland can be reached at 360-385-2335, ext. 55052, or at [email protected]

Karl Kruger arrived in Ketchikan, Alaska on Sunday as the first paddle-boarder to ever complete the 750-mile Race to Alaska. (Katrina Zoe Norbom/R2AK)

Karl Kruger paddles through Falls Narrows, one of the many channels he paddled to completed the 750-mile Race to Alaska from Port Townsend to Ketchikan, Alaska. (Liv von Oelreich/R2AK)

More in News

Makah chief to share tribal tradition

‘How we are Related to the Whales’ takes place in Port Townsend

Public comment accepted on Makah whaling proposal

The public comment period will end on March 16 for a proposal… Continue reading

Jennifer States addresses Sequim city councilors at a question-and-answer session for potential candidates for the vacant seventh council seat in January 2018. States announced her intention to resign from the council Feb. 18. (Matthew Nash/Olympic Peninsula News Group)
Sequim city councilor Jennifer States to resign

Vacant position to be filled by appointment of the council

Timber companies, environmentalists sign ‘historic’ pact

Meetings results in memorandum to set up a process for overhauling the Oregon Forest Practices Act

Local students earn academic distinction at Whitman College

Whitman College has recently announced that two Port Angeles… Continue reading

Parks and Rec Commission to interview candidate at meeting

The city Parks, Recreation and Beautification Commission will interview… Continue reading

Clallam County seeks grant for reservoir

Commissioners OK pre-applications for water supply project off River Road

Jefferson County rejoins OPNET

Commissioners approve revived pact

Most Read