Team members: Ian Graeme, Janice Mason
Hometown: Victoria, BC, Canada
Race vessel: TBD
Human propulsion: paddles and oars
Despite the maze rats evidence, some people don’t learn.
In the pre-digital questioning of, “How can we know stuff?,” the midcentury mammalian BitCoin equivalent for problem solving was simpler than server farms crunching numbers for the promise of virtual riches. We let loose rats in a labyrinth of cardboard, hit the wind-up stopwatch twice—once when the rats started, and again when they were nose deep in cheese. RatCoin never caught on, but they got faster the more times they ran the maze. The conclusion was that if humans were at least as good as rats, we would probably get faster at stuff if two things were true:
- We did something more than once.
- There were dairy products involved.
While we can neither confirm nor deny that the Masons or the Russians are involved, it does start to seem conspiratorial. Why else would R2AK need to exist?
Given the maze of islands between the starting line and Ketchikan glory land, you’d think that if humans were >/= rat level, then multiple times in the R2AK would make teams faster. Looking at the data, this is in no way true, and Team Oaracle appears to be the most ‘sub-rat’ in their ability to improve. Not a steady decline, they have their moments, but their elapsed time trendlines make them pretty dumb rats…or at least rats that heard the click of the stopwatch and looked at the maze, looked up at the whitecoats and clipboards, shrugged, and began to amble through the maze to enjoy the scenery.
Team Oaracle started their R2AK careers as promising contenders of the trimaran set. Ian with Team Blackfish and Fly, Janice as the Olympian rowing engine of Team Sistership (2015, 16, and 16, respectively). But then they found each other, fell into each other and out of the competition. In the smelliest kind of romantic, they decided that not only would they use the R2AK as their first date (yes, you read that right), they would make it as long as possible: 23 days dating/racing in a 22-foot rowboat with likely no more than six pairs of underwear between them. Second date: R2AK 2018, 18 days in a double kayak. Their fastest finishing times in each year: 12 days, 6 days, 23 days, 18 days. 2019 was their quickest race, albeit a heartbreaking DNF as they missed the deadline for stage 1 despite a “Playing through!” portage through the golf course of an exclusive Victoria BC country club.
Unpacking that: while it is no match for the COVID-sized party pooper that is holding up anyone from completing any part of the race in 2020, Stage 1 of R2AK 2019 was a cruel one. Two days of storms, and the small boats were faced with hard choices and dim odds: wait it out and pray for a window, or make the run across the 30 miles of open water whipped up into a frenzy and pray for Neptune’s clemency. Team Oaracle waited, waited, and then ran across in sketchy seas and a foul tide that pushed them from the harbor mouth to the other side of the island, six miles by water or two-plus miles overland from the finish line in Victoria’s inner harbor with an hour to go until deadline. Rather than throw in the towel, they decided to sprint for it, boat and all. The shortest distance was across a golf course and zig zagging city streets. They made it, but 15 minutes past the cutoff time. A DNF and early exit that everyone hated—especially us.
While their career as lab rats might be otherwise short lived, at over 60 days elapsed time on course, Team Oaracle has spent more time in the race, the only team to do the SEVENTY48 and R2AK back to back under human power, the only team that potentially rivals Team Soggy Beavers’ 2015 claim at mid-race canoodling. They are also the only team with a record of perfect attendance, and, to our knowledge, have the only tactical portage across a golf course in any boat race ever.
Gold star and a special certificate. Golf clap.
Welcome back to the R2AK, Team Oaracle. You are our beta test for the R2AK dating app—swipe down for chafe.