Friday, Sept 9, 2022. One day before “race” day.
Friday morning, Anton stayed in the hotel room to finish up a few things on his laptop for work while the rest of us went exploring before the mandatory safety meeting at 1:00pm.
We chose to drive south on the lone road that threads the length of the Florida keys, aka US-1, in search of scenic “beaches” where we could pull over and take pictures. On our drive we found Anne’s Beach which seemed less of a beach and more of a boardwalk with picnic areas and parking. It was pretty and naturey.
On the drive back to the hotel, I managed to spot a dot on the horizon that resembled a lighthouse as we drove over a long bridge. We noted the location of Amara Cay Resort (the race venue) in passing, discovered a spiny lobster statue that we vowed to eventually get pictures, stopped for coffee, and then picked up Anton for the safety meeting.
Amara Cay Resort had clearly marked parking for non-guests across US-1 however that’s where the clear signage sort of ended. We walked around the parking lot first looking for more signs, discovered the kayak tent, then returned to the resort’s main entrance where we filed past a vendor selling event t-shirts and then out onto the resort patio where palm trees waved around an outdoor bar where hotel patrons were already mingling.
As time for the safety meeting grew closer, we had no clue where to pick up our packets but we had a meeting to get to. Safety first, yeah?
Safety Meeting Stuff:
- The course begins through two yellow buoys from where the swimmer must meet up with their kayaker(s) by buoy #1 of #14 (all buoys were 1/4 miles apart with the lighthouse itself being “#15”)
- Each team/participant is in charge of their own nutrition and hydration, sun protection, etc.
- All teams must complete the course inside of 8 hours
- All participants are given a whistle. In the event of an emergency, a support kayaker should blow the whistle and hold their paddle vertically in the air in order to grab the attention of and summon a patrol jet ski. If needed, the jet skier would alert the outlying support boats with EMT/police.
- A barge will be anchored at 2 miles, and a dive boat anchored at mile 4 behind the lighthouse. These are assistance vessels for participants who are unable to continue for any reason.
- Due to expected windiness at the time of the event, organizers created a second option: either (1) do the original swim around Alligator Lighthouse and back which is 8 miles (12.9km) OR (2) swim out and around the midway barge which is 4 miles (6.4 km) round trip
The announcer guy kept alluding to ‘what happened last year’ as if it was a horror story, but he never did explain what he meant. (Dude, we wanna know!)
People had questions about jellyfish, which we actually saw one washed up in some seaweed, but nobody had any concerns about sharks. I thought that was interesting.
After the meeting, we finally found Packet Pick-up inside the hotel which was hiding in a room around a corner, way out of sight. From there, we checked in at the kayak assignment tent. After that, we walked around to see how everything was set up so we weren’t acting like tourists in the morning.
We left the venue more psyched out than when we arrived. Back on US-1, we forgot to stop at the lobster statue on the way back to the hotel, bought pizza for dinner, and watched Finding Nemo #2 before bed because it was on TV.
Appropriate movie, right? “Just keep swimming.”
NEXT: Saturday, Sept 10, 2022. “Race” Day.