Team members: Matt Pruis
Hometown: Ellensburg, Washington, USA (ironically, a really windy town)
Race vessel: TRAK kayak
Human propulsion: The only thing he’s got
R2AK Cred: R2AK record for kayak 2017
Connect: facebook, instagram, website
Whoever justified climbing a mountain “because it’s there” clearly never met Team TRAK Kayaks. A mountain summit is a natural goal, and a visible justification for optional misery of thousands of feet of up, horrible, and dangerous. If the goal is to get to the top of Everest, there’s no other way to do it than to walk your ass to the top, plant a flag, and get down before the weather kills you. It’s both an accomplishment and a metaphor for the human condition—yadda, yadda, yadda, we get it. Because it’s there.
There are a million ways to get to the R2AK “summit” of Ketchikan… well, two if you don’t count planes, ferries, and every other boat with a motor. Our two options: use the wind or use your muscles. The key difference between R2AK and “because it’s there?” For sure there are easier ways to get to “Ketchikan Everest” than bicep, tricep, or core for 750 miles of kayak drudgery without a sail. There’s wind, tons of it, at least sometimes, and to walk away from that much potential free propulsion “because it’s there?” Well, that’s Team TRAK Kayaks, who seems to be that particular kind of bonkers.
Team TRAK Kayaks is going to paddle a kayak from the Lower 48 to K-Town, wind be damned.
We might have started the race as a riddle of human vs. wind, and “whatever you want” vs. the Inside Passage, but if the first three years were a cage match between sail and human power, right about now, sails would be wearing the serving-platter sized belt of a pro-wrestling championship, and human power would still be selling Thin Mints outside of the grocery store, a few boxes short of a merit badge.
Wind vs. human? No contest.
Team TRAK Kayaks looked at the odds and chose a paddle and a 16-foot F.U. to prevailing wisdom, past races, and elemental power. There have only been two kayaks to complete the R2AK (Team Mike, 2015, and Matt’s record-setting run as Team Viz Reporter in 2017). The first one had a downwind sail and coasted for 3 days of free miles. Team TRAK? Not hearing it. Matt signed up to shovel water and wind or he’s going to paddle all 750, again. Why? Because it’s (still) there, and when he’s done, the TRAK will fold up into an overhead bin. That’s right, portable kayak that fits into a backpack. The cruel joke of the R2AK is that it’s a 750-mile race that leaves you 750 miles from where you started and a need to get your boat back from Alaska. Boats are going to get there faster than Team TRAK Kayaks, but no one is going to get their boat home faster. As the adage goes: “Nothing goes to weather like a 737.”
Welcome back to R2AK, Team TRAK Kayaks. Thanks for climbing this mountain again.