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]