Following passions is what this thing is all about. Sure, someone is going to win ten grand, but even they are going to spend way more than that to get it. For the first team to Ketchikan down to the last team to not make it to the starting line, at a very basic level, R2AK is about tapping the passion within to find the follow through to give it as much shape as we can muster. Team Reliance has lived that ethos for a lifetime.
It all started in the 1970s back-to-nature activism that had people ditching trailers for backpacks while park ranger-hatted spokesanimals pitched the Saturday morning cartoon set, everything from their personal responsibility for forest fires to, “Give a hoot, don’t pollute.” It was that same time when Outward Bound was starting to take hold as an outdoor educational force on both sides of the US-Canadian border, and it was in one of those programs where Team Reliance began internalizing the value of the outdoors that would define the rest of their lives. Marjory Stewart was in grade 9 when the OB canoe trip led to climbing, and the hook was set. Outdoors forever.
Outward Bound led to $3/hr farm work that would eventually pay for a 17-year-old Marjory saving enough for climbing school, and she’s never looked back. Expeditions in Mexico, Peru, Ecuador, China, Colombia, Japan, Europe, US and Canada—and, as the years went on, some with her adventurous kids. They didn’t always make the summit, but that they are here in this year’s R2AK is proof that they always made it back. Our boundless jealousy makes it hard to quote anyone more eloquent than ourselves, but we loved this part of her application too much not to share: “Adventures bring a constellation of risks but resilience is its own reward.”
Climbing led to marathons. She won her first at 18…because it was 1977 and she was both a serious athlete and the only female to finish. Ten years of competition and a growing field of competition later and she was in the Olympic Trials and the Canadian National Champion.
Marathons led to triathlons. Triathlons led to rowing.
Sailing? Marjory might be the first R2AK participant who came into the race’s primary propulsion after hitting 50. She hit sailing like the rest of her pursuits: with fervor and tenacity. She’s entering the R2AK with nearly ten years of doggedly pursuing ever more challenging experiences and ever increasing US Sailing certifications. R2AK is her first watery ascent to supplement the peaks and two and a half trips around the earth that her running feet have taken her.
R2AK is a horizontal climb of blue latitudes.
What lofty race vessel would a women’s marathon pioneer and early Outward Bounder set their sights on for the West Coast’s new paradigm of watery adventure racing? The Balboa 20, of course. Not too fast, not too big, the Balboa is known for many things, including being trailerable and 20 feet long. Elle is Marjory’s second boat, one purchased according to the strict three-part buying criteria of the R2AK:
1. Was it cheap and on Craigslist?
2. The other two.
Welcome to the R2AK, Team Reliance. As former Outward Bounders ourselves, we look forward to circling up with you and debriefing your race at the finish line.