What is the route?
Our route starts in sea kayaks at Key Biscayne, set against a backdrop of Miami’s famous skyline to the north beyond. The action starts fairly swiftly off-shore as you pass via historic Stiltsville, a collection of floating dwellings in the middle of the Ocean. From there, we make our way on an exhilarating open sea leg across the ‘safety valve,’ a massive warren of sandbanks that protects and shelters Biscayne Bay, and that (in places) is only inches deep, depending on tidal conditions. We are heading for the northern Keys and make our first landfall at Boca Chita Key, where a small National Park facility will host one of our pit stops as you now make your way down the uninhabited northern Keys. Another stop at Adam Key then gives way to a fabulous warren of inter-island channels and inlets as you weave your way south-west towards the get-out on Key Largo. A more open stretch brings you ashore again on Key Largo before switching to the bikes. That’s 33 miles down in the kayaks. Not bad for a day’s work!
It’s not quite over yet. A quick fast bike will take you to the overnight on Key Largo. Time for a well-earned beer and bed before setting off on the bikes again tomorrow.
Day 2 starts on the bikes and covers 100 miles of fast road cycling of the Overseas Highway to reach our bike – run transition around mile marker 13. Cycling with the sun on your back and that famous sea air in your lungs – what could be better! With 13 miles to go on foot, Key West is now pretty much in sight and you’ll make your way to the finish line right at the end of the continental United States. Now, time for another beer or 5!
Is it safe?
Yes. Rat Race are a responsible and experienced operator of adventure challenges with some 15 years experience. We operate globally in challenging and remote environments, as well as in the centre of cities. We cut our cloth to suit any plan accordingly and this event is no exception. With a serious commitment to safety on the water and good liaison with the Authorities in that respect, you’re in safe hands out there. Back on dry land, a full selection of safety resources are at our disposal to ensure you have the very best cover, whilst enjoying an amazing weekend adventure.
How hard is it?
Well, 150 miles over 2 days will never be a walk in the park, but add to that some pretty fierce mileage on the kayak, the Florida heat and some generally pretty long old bike and run legs, this is a big weekend on the arms, legs and in the mind. But we have designed it to be achievable. We don’t want you to fail. You need the right mind-set. It is worth a shot; it has to be. When else do you get an opportunity like this, to traverse the entire chain of the Florida Keys and end up at the southern-most point of the USA?
Can I walk the foot section?
Yes. No problem.
Can I use my own kayak?
If you have one, yes. We will provide everyone with the opportunity to rent one of ours but if you prefer to use your own, that’s fine. You’ll need to provide your own paddle and buoyancy aid if you’re not renting a kayak from us. Plus we will need you to demonstrate your paddling ability in it and its seaworthiness. If it’s been in the garage or the yard for years, you might want to check those skegs, rudders and rubber seals! Still, there is no requirement to use your own. We have rentals available which come with a paddle and buoyancy aid. Oh yep and it’s fine to use singles or doubles. Your call.
How many times do you get to paddle your way across the full chain of the Northern Keys, with a flotilla of likeminded folk around you? The start itself at Key Biscayne has gotta be worth it. This is a helluva paddle!
What about kayak-mounted sails?
Not in the spirit of this one, sorry!
How long have I got each day?
We will have cut-offs in place throughout the challenge but these will be extremely generous. If you do find yourself at the back and off the pace, we will scoop you up and shuttle you further up the field, although we will aim for this to be a last resort so you have your best shot at doing the whole thing by your own means of travel. For the kayak stage, the same applies but it works slightly differently on the ‘scooping you up.’ Of course, we will have checked you out in the boat before you set off and if we don’t think you can cut it on the kayak, we won’t permit you to start. So in theory, if you are out there, you should be able to make it. But if you have a problem, boat-based or otherwise, we do have 2 put-ins on the northern Keys, at which you can seek assistance, bail and be transported onwards to the end of the stage. And if you are falling behind, we will insist on you withdrawing at one of these locations and we will ferry you forward from there. The boats will follow later on, carried forward by our motorized support vessels.
What if I get injured, or need to withdraw from a stage or from the whole thing?
As above. Our medical team will be on hand to assist with injury and, depending on the type and nature of the injury, can treat or evacuate you accordingly. If we need to get to you to urgent medical attention in a hospital, we can.
If you need to withdraw from the phase on land (bike or run), these are vehicle supported stages and our vehicles will move you onwards to the overnight location for that night. If you wish and if you are up to it, you may re-start the following stage the next day.
For the kayak, the procedure is described above; we bring you ashore at a Key, then shuttle you forward to end of the stage, your boat following later.
If you need to withdraw from the event as a whole, (and if you have not been transported to hospital for urgent care) then we will move you to the finish line at Key West and you will remain there until the rest of the event body has arrived there. Or your supporters can collect you.
It is important to note that withdrawals only ever go forward on the course, not backwards (i.e. We would never take you back to the start, for example).
These will be situated regularly along the route on the bike and the run and will be operated out of mobile vehicles, with cold drink provision, plus some energy foods. Rat Race is renowned for its pit stops – it’s all good stuff! But remember, these are not ‘full-service buffets’ and are designed predominantly as grab n’ go style offerings.
Out on the water, we will have a mixture of special ‘floating’ pit stops, off of boats (yes, really!). Also some shore-based pit stops on 2 of the northern keys, where you can come ashore, stretch your legs and back out, and avail of some beverages, restrooms and snacks.
Will I get too hot whilst on the course?
It’s possible but only if you don’t follow the guidance on clothing, and water and electrolyte intake; and if you are slow in taking action to resolve. The absolute key is to ensure you ‘keep on top of it’ and to take on water, electrolytes and salts. We will have all of these things at the pit stops. You will be required to carry a minimum quantity of water and minimum quantities of food at all times, to ensure you are always self-sufficient. The absolute key is good hydration and good shade (cover) for your head. See the mandatory kit list here for more information on kit and hydration.