Team members: Doug Shoup, Julie Knott
Hometown: Sedro Woolley, WA USA
Race vessel: Beneteau First 18
Human propulsion: Pedal or mirage drive
Connect: facebook, instagram, youtube
R2AK Cred: 2018 R2AK DNF (Campbell River), 2019 Stage 1 Finisher
If it’s anything like it is in our minds, if you were to walk in to the yet-to-be-built R2AK Hall of Fame, right after the bucket of salt water that’s thrown in your face as you enter, you’d be sold your ticket, then left to your own devices. There’s no map or instructions, no one to help you figure it out, and a Seymour Narrows exhibit that features a moving sidewalk that goes too fast, and half of the time in the wrong direction. There’d be your obvious nods to classic achievement, marble busts of R2AK’s pantheon of heroes, Titian-esque oil paintings of record setters and race organizers; the cacophonic hallelujahs of “Assumption of Team MAD Dog,” the reposed come-hither nude of “RaceBoss in Urbino.”
Somewhere between the Hall of Broken Boats and the SUP-2AK Cafeteria that serves nothing but electrolytes and food replacement pellets, there would be an entire wing reserved for Team Perseverance.
No big money sponsors, hasn’t even completed the race yet, and no way he’s going to bankroll the exhibit, but Team Perseverance gets the wing for two reasons:
- We are horrible at business.
- Doug is the kind of R2AK legend that personifies what we hoped this race would inspire.
- We can’t math.
Focusing on #2: There were some bold-face questions that leapt off Doug’s 2018 application: As an outdoors enthusiast, Doug was inspired by the R2AK, but his outdoor skills were hardcore but entirely in the semi-relevant pursuits of hunting, fishing, gutting, and packing out large animals from the remote North Cascades. His nautical experience was limited to a stint in the Navy. His race vessel was a 16’ rotomolded, sit-on-top kayak with sails and outriggers. The boat seemed like a stretch too far considering his lack of experience and limited payload capacity for all of his gear and his 300+ pound frame. We told him something close to that, and told him to get in touch if he had addressed the sum total of those issues.
To our surprise, he did—unlike everyone else we said that to before him. Reading his resubmission, our collective jaw hit the floor.
We include his words here (edited for length), because if they inspire you half as much as they still inspire us then we’re all better people:
As you know, my initial application was turned down due to a lack of experience, and although it wasn’t said, I expect my physical condition was also a serious consideration, as it should’ve been. As much as I wanted to go, I don’t disagree with the decision at the time.
Back in September, when I first heard about the R2AK, I thought it was the coolest race ever. The more videos I watched, the more interested I became and started to consider if it was something I could do myself. It took a couple weeks of wrapping my head around what it would take physically, mentally, and logistically to finish the race. After some real serious thought and consideration, I was in. I immediately started training and preparing for the race. That was exactly 6 months ago today. Even with my initial application being turned down, I’ve continued to train and prepare as if I were going.
My conditioning has changed significantly. I tipped the scales at close to 310 lbs when I started training. In the six months since I started, I’ve lost 86 lbs and still going. My goal is to be under 200 lbs by race day. Might be a tall order at this point. The pounds aren’t coming off like they were. I’m fighting for every ounce.
Since we last spoke, I have been in the Southern Strait of Georgia the waters of the Eastern Strait of Juan de Fuca. I launch at Cornet Bay and head through Deception Pass. From there, I normally make a lap around Smith Island or the green buoy off Cattle Point. I have time constraints here, too, as I need to make sure I am back through Deception Pass before the tide change. I tried to pedal against the current in Deception Pass to see how I could do—that was an effort of diminishing returns.
…I had an encounter this January at the Seattle Boat Show with a gentleman selling books. He saw me wearing an R2AK sweat shirt and asked about it. After a brief conversation where I explained I was trying to get into the race and what I planned to use, he seemed a little put off. He mentioned how rough the water was and asked one question: Had I ever been up that far? He knew the answer, and I didn’t have a response for him at the time. Following his question, he abruptly ended the conversation and all but turned his back to me. I didn’t have an answer for him then, but I have one now. The answer is NO.
Prior to this, I haven’t had a reason to go.
I’m not normally a nervous person, but as I finish this letter, my nerves are about frayed. I’m nervous you’ll say no, and knowing the magnitude of what I’m taking on, I’m just as nervous you’ll say yes. At this point, I don’t know if what I’ve said and done are enough to sway your previous decision. I hope it is. I’ve put everything I have into this. Without even traveling the first mile of the race, it’s had a tremendous impact on my life.
Please let me go.”
We didn’t start this race to see how fast a souped-up trimaran full of Olympians can get to Alaska, but to inspire people reaching for whatever adventure was just past their next step, to catalyze the realization that we are all stronger than we know. In 2018 Team Perseverance set the bar for how far this race can take people, and before he had even hit the starting line. Last year he came back with a boat that he built and the sea broke on the way to Victoria. But he made it, broken dagger board and all.
This year Doug’s hitting the line with a Beneteau 18 mini racer, a whole new set of skills, and the rare gift of being able to charge right up to his limit and then dial it back a notch. That’s worthy of a wing in the Hall of Fame right there.
Welcome back to the Race, Team Perseverance. A more fitting name could not have been manufactured.