Pre-Race Update: Ruckus? You Hardly Know Us.

Mic check, testing, one two, one two.


Welcome to Race Day, you gender-non-specific and glorious bastards of the R2AK. Time to dust off the dopamine receptors, set your decoder rings to 11, and rise and frigging grind—it’s June and there’s a Ketchikan to catch. 

It’s been a while: 364 agonizing sleeps since the last starting gun, three weeks less than near a year since you trackered the last team across into Ketchikan glory land. Better limber up, do a yoga, and get ready to Race Fan your ass off.  

Have you been training like you promised? Have you been keto squat thrusting? Have you been doing epithet exercises, the “red leather, yellow f***cker” diction reps while you crank out the resistance click sets, tapping your touchscreen to build up your index/thumb calluses and carpal tunnels for the non-stop month of alternately refreshing the tracker and swearing at your screen when it crashes? Don’t worry, us either/too. You’re among friends. 

Regardless of whatever the hell that meant, we’re T-minus less than ever between now and Sunday’s 5 AM lift-off, and couldn’t be more excited. Too much of the year is spent not Racing to Alaska. The deal is still the same: you promise to hoot and holler, we promise to shovel up a steaming pile of race news and pour it into your brain hole. Every. Single. Day.  

What’s steaming today? 

Today, the barrier between what might be and what will be is getting thinner by the minute. By the time you read this, R2AK’s class of 2024 will be waking up on Race Eve to some version of at least some of the following: 

  • Something they thought was finished actually isn’t (usually repairs, sometimes food, always catastrophic).
  • The thing they focused on because it was definitely important really isn’t (usually food, sometimes repairs, rarely catastrophic).
  • Something fundamental was overlooked entirely.

The truth is, Race to Alaska is a series of races, and the race to the starting line is the first one, that by tomorrow everyone will have lost at least a little. Better shoot for two out of three. 

Reality is getting bigger by the minute, and the docks in Port Townsend are abuzz with the steady frenzy of last-minute preparations. People are up masts, in the bilge, rebuilding everything from pedal drives to toilets as the ticking clock of tomorrow gets louder. Through it all, the camaraderie of the racers is as palpable as it is bizarre. These are competitors through and through, but today teams are helping each other, pooling resources and expertise to get each other into fighting shape in time for race day. One set of oars went from one team to another, spare shackles made their way down the dock to save another one. At least from the binocular view from behind the blinds of R2AK’s command bunker, it looks like racers are swapping more parts than a swinger convention. 

Today is the Eve of the R2AK, one more day, one more sleep, one more chance to dial it in before Sunday’s 5 AM, rude o’clock start. If you’re like everyone else who has talked to us in the last 24 to 240 hours, you’re wondering the same thing: “What does the weather look like for the start?” We look at various models, and we can safely say that the weather for the start looks like it’s 100% chance of inevitable. 

Stage 1 is called the Proving Ground for the very reason that we don’t care about the weather, but the race teams better. Teams have to prove they can make it to Victoria in 36 hours, REGARDLESS OF WEATHER, to qualify to continue. Storm for days? Deal with it. Zero wind? Gentlemen start your blisters. The actual forecast looks like wind, a fair bit of it, for at least the first day, maybe the second. Batten down the hatches, freebase some Dramamine, and get ready to bash it out for 30 open water miles to Canada. 

But that’s Sunday. Today is Saturday, Ruckus Day; Port Townsend Pride Fest’s adjacent R2AK celebration of bands, beer, and pharmaceutical-grade race enthusiasm. If you’re anywhere near you should come down. Check out the boats, meet other race fans, rub elbows with Race to Alaska veterans and rookies alike, bask in/shake your head at the 44 versions of good-natured hubris that will be heading north tomorrow morning. Today the barrier between “might be” and “will be” is intact and all there is is the camaraderie of R2AK Nation, and the hope and anxiety of tomorrow. 

Ready or not, R2AK.


Longtime race fans and heavy metal gods, Lords of the Deep, took a minute out of basking in their anonymity to grace R2AK’s virtual studios. They laid down a track so heavy we had to get the forklift. Enjoy.