“Adventure paddling is my thing, the excitement of getting around that lumpy headland or crossing open ocean to reach a destination never paddled before is a passion for me. I don’t really warm up until I’ve done 30km, so SUP racing doesn’t really scratch that itch.When I saw that some guy call Greg Wingo was staging an event in Florida, it was the events name that caught my attention, Last Paddler Standing Wow, that really made me sit up! Not often the stars align so perfectly but I’d been in talks to several people regarding international water safety, drowning prevention and new paddle board designs. They were all based in Florida… it was meant to be, two birds and all that. Within 10 mins of seeing the event advertised I’d entered and was booking my flights.‘Last Paddler Standing’, this was an event without any chaff, all you do is paddle 3.3 miles, starting at the top of the hour, every hour. No music allowed, no food on the board (alligators) just you against the relentless predictability of paddling every hour. Sarasota national rowing lake is a stunning location, surrounded by palms decorated with Christmas lights and clear water…full of snakes, snapping turtles and the odd gator! Plus, the heat, I wasn’t totally aware of just how hot the December days are on the west coast of Florida. Think the BEST mid-summer sunny day in the UK and this is every day through the winter months of the most southern state in America. If the gods aren’t on your side and want to punish you then you can also expect 85% humidity, which will bring a camel to its knees.Putting aside the conditions, it really is a great concept, you against the distance… every hour. Just make sure you have a suitable board and paddle… thank you SIC MAUI and Blackfish paddles.My tactics were very simple, paddle the 3.3 miles in 43/44 mins every hour, no faster or slower. I’d been training for the previous 3 months and found that this timing was the best compromise between giving a rest between each paddle and getting the distance done. The first 12 hours were smooth, I’d stuck to the plan perfectly. The only part that was unexpected was the volume of liquid consumed, 3 times more. Food was a little less but I’d got two spells of sleep in, an 8 & 10 minute nap. I was hopeful to clear the night with ease, in fact I was really enjoying the night and the second full day of paddling in the sunshine was not a daunting prospect. Then with rapid consequences the wheels started to fall off my chariot. The heat of the night seemed to wrap around my throat, restricting my breathing and thumping a relentless Jumanji drum beat to the centre of my head. For a few further laps I’d planned just to shake it off, paddle through it. On lap 15, I just wanted to throw up with every paddle stroke and with a 14 minute break at the end of the 3.3 miles (yes, my times were starting to get slower) I’d poured 10 gallons of water over me to cool down and give some rest from the continuous head banging.I was the luckiest contender in this crazy event because I had my amazing daughter Kitty with me and two great friends ( Danny Mccarthy & Tracey) who’d travelled all that way just to support, motivate and encourage. They were the only reason I completed 4 more laps. After the 19th lap I could barely stand up on the board and had lost all concept of what I was doing. That was the moment the end had come, I was the 8th paddler standing, completed over 60 miles/100 km for 19 hours. The heat of the Florida winter had taken its toll on a Brit who’d spent the previous 3 months paddling in wind, rain and more rain and wind. My event was done, it took 3 days to get my body back to normal and the past few weeks to understand my malfunction, learn from it, take the disappointment square on the chin and move on.40 paddlers entered the event, 19 started on the day to challenge their paddling to the extreme plus trust in the event organiser Mr Wingo. Having taken part in the inaugural ‘Last paddler Standing’, I’m hooked! The distance of 3.3 miles per hour is perfect, starting at the top of the hour is relentlessly wonderful and the event concept is one of brilliance. I thank Greg Wingo for a fantastic event, put together brilliantly in a stunning location with amazing volunteers. As for all the other competitors, thank you for the paddle time, sorry for my lack of witty banter after lap 12 but I’m in awe of all of you, both those who finished before me and the exceptional few who went on for 40, 42, 47 and 48 laps. Congratulations to Paul ￼Paolo Marconi for being the inspiring ‘Last Paddler Standing- 2022’ and all for taking part.Here’s to the next ‘Last Paddler Standing’, an event I know will sell out for 2023. Through superb 24/7 coverage the worlds paddling community and beyond got to witness the triumph of Mr Wingo’s event and in the years to come performances from outstanding endurance paddlers will become stuff of legend. Many will talk about this unique challenge, even add it to their bucket list but only the brave will actually take on the 3.3 miles, every hour until only one paddler is standing.- Brendon Prince”
Loved this video, I paddle in Torbay and. Brendon’s adventures are a massive inspiration. Last paddler standing sounds like a daunting but amazing experience. As a novice paddler I’ve signed up to SUP 12, furthest I’ve paddled before is 10km so I’m keen to see how much further I can go and it’s exciting to take part in something that will test mental and physical endurance as much as paddle technique and speed.
Thanks for the insights and inspiration!
Hey Leigh. Glad to hear you have signed up for the SUP 12. Its sounds like a fab event. And as you say Brendon’s a top chap. Good luck and remember to lets us know how you get on also.