Katie Spotz just completed a 70-day solo row across the Atlantic two weeks ago, the youngest person to ever cross an ocean in a rowboat. She is 22 and has been planning the trip from Africa to South America for two years. What an achievement, what an ordeal, what a brave journey, what an inspiration. You can read about it in this New York Times article written by Christopher Maag. Or you can go to her web site This is merely Katie’s latest athletic accomplishment. She really is not an ordinary human. One has to ask how some people become so extraordinary? Immediately below are some excerpts from the Times article.

Katie Spotz in her boat that she rowed across the Atlantic

Katie Spotz in her boat that she rowed across the Atlantic

Amazingly “…her biggest boating experience (prior to attempting the ocean crossing) consisted of a 40-mile practice row on Lake Erie that ended with her boat being pinned against a cliff by wind and waves. The boat was nearly destroyed. Many people asked Spotz how she could row across the Atlantic if she could not even row on Lake Erie.

The answer, she said, is that the biggest danger in ocean rowing besides hurricanes is coming too close to shore, where the current can overwhelm the rower and push the boat into the rocks.

…Her 19-foot yellow wooden rowboat was broadsided by 20-foot waves as she approached South America. It was a frightening ride, even though the boat was built to withstand hurricanes and 50-foot waves, said Phil Morrison, the British yacht builder who designed it…

…the voyage (was) a grueling test of endurance. Spotz developed painful calluses and rashes from rowing 8 to 10 hours a day…”

Here is some more on the story from an issue of EcoWatch published before Katie began her unbelievable rowing adventure.

Spotz plans to leave West Africa in mid-December and remain at sea from 70 to 100 days and travel 2,500 miles from Dakar, Senegal to Cayenne, French Guiana. Her 400-pound boat will be equipped with many safety measures, including a GPS tracking device, emergency beacons, water-maker, satellite phone and more.

Spotz is spending her days in Ohio working on three areas—physical, mental and ocean training. She is mixing high intensity cardio workouts with weight lifting and weekly long rows on the erg machine, and uses meditation as a form of mental preparation. Her boat is docked at the Mentor Harbor Yachting Club and she is training on Lake Erie through October, when the boat will be shipped to Africa.

Katie loves challeges

Katie loves challeges

“I love challenges, especially challenges where you push your mind over matter,” she said. “One reason I am particularly interested in ocean rowing is because it becomes a way of life. When you compete in most endurance events, you complete the event and then go back to all the comforts of home. I want a raw, inescapable challenge.”

Spotz is no stranger to challenges. In 2006, Spotz completed a 3,300-mile bike ride across America for the American Lung Association. In 2007, she went to Australia for a 62-mile ultra-marathon. And last year, she became the first person to swim the entire length of the 352-mile Allegheny River to increase awareness of the need for safe drinking water. In November 2008, Spotz also completed a 150-mile run in the Mojave and Colorado desert. Read the rest of this entry »

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