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A Canoeist’s Amazing Race

Rod Price prepares for a 1,200-mile test.

Rod Price has won more than 200 canoe races in 30 years.

Rod Price has won more than 200 canoe races in 30 years.

Photo By Norma Lopez Molina

The Ultimate Florida Challenge is still 10 months away, but Rod Price is pumped. The prospect of a 1,200-mile canoe race will do that to you.

Actually he’s always in a state of readiness: The Orlando racer trains by competing—next month he’ll be tackling the circuitous 370-mile Cross Florida Challenge (Fernandina Beach to Cedar Key). Price practices on Lake Virginia in Winter Park twice a week with other canoeists, and works out on cardio and strength machines at a health club.  Soon he’ll start stockpiling 5-Hour Energy drink.

He’ll need every bit of stamina for the race next March—a circumnavigation of our state beginning and ending near St. Petersburg. The race includes a 40-mile overland hike in North Florida with canoe in tow. He and other racers have 30 days to complete the journey (the record is 19 days).

Racers are on their own for food and shelter, but there will be little time to eat and sleep. “You definitely want to average 18 to 20 hours a day paddling,” Price says. There also will be tides, alligators, sharks and sunburn to contend with.

He has won more than 200 races in 30 years. But asked why, at age 51, he continually pushes the limits of his endurance, Price, who owns an office supply business, talks about a different kind of victory. “If you can arrange your life to be in position to do great adventures,’’ he says, “you’ve already won.’’

Price will race with a yet-to-be-chosen partner. He is trying to raise money for Give Kids the World Village through per-mile pledges.

—Barry Glenn

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