Stage 2, Day 13:  City of Fish and the Glory of 19th


The city where “done” lives isn’t just a place; it’s a whole freakin’ vibe. Equal parts Wild West and Disney Funland, it’s a town where summers are measured in numbers of tourists (1.5 million a year), pounds of salmon candied (a bunch), First Nation totem poles (over 80), and amount of rain—measured in feet (13 a year). Over the years of R2AK, Ketchikan has been a stalwart partner, the locals coming out rain or shine to celebrate the victors day in and day out during the multi-week finishing period.

Then there’s the people. Hunter and Deb, the dynamic duo of finish line fame, have graced us with their presence for at least 70% of all R2AK finishes ever. And then there’s Liz, the behind-the-scenes hero, filming finishes, lending vehicles, and providing crash pads to those too weary to find one themselves. The Ketchikan Daily News, KRDB radio, and KPUtv have been our cheerleaders, cranking out good vibes and getting Ketchikanians fired up every year.

Sponsors. They make the world go round. The Alaska Fish House/Baranof Fishing Excursions has provided our finish line since 2015. It’s also where we dish out the cash and knives each year, much to the bewilderment of tourists who just came for the fish and chips. Ketchikan Visitors Bureau has always been with us, flinging Ketchikan’s doors open wide to the world and embracing the R2AKness of it all. New to our sponsor crew this year is Cape Fox Lodge, where the mattresses are comfy enough to make you consider moving in.

Emily, captain of Team Loose Screw, is no stranger to Ketchikan. So when she and her comrades hit the dock yesterday just after noon to secure the coveted 19th place, it was more of a return than a finish line. TLS arrived in one piece, although some of those pieces were not the ones they started out with. Somewhere back on the seafloor below the Proving Ground lies their original pedal drive. The replacement? Cobbled together from the goodwill and spare parts of past racers.

Things broke, things got fixed, and along the way, they even became heroes. Just outside of Bella Bella, TLS found themselves with an unexpected passenger—a handsome dog they rescued, along with its owner, from a kayak capsize. It’s a saga of grit, camaraderie, and occasionally, impromptu canine rescues.

Up next on the hit parade will be Team Bonesaw’s Revengeance Rising, before a probable gap in arrivals for a day or two. Take this time to hydrate, people

R2AK out.

Header photo by Amy Arnston

Cuts From Course@200x

From around ketchikaN

Photos by Amy Arnston