Jolyn Mid Atlantic Rep: Robin Lang, Hawaii Rep: Leane Darling, & Atlantic Rep: Jen Noonan just competed in the Molokai to Oahu (M2O) 32 Mile World Championship Paddleboard Race across the Ka’iwi Channel. Jen and Leane teamed up and placed 1st in the 2 Woman Relay. Robin competed solo and was 1 of 23 women out of 260 participants that made the solo crossing. Check out Robin's recap of the experience below. We have AWESOME reps!
The Ka’iwi Channel is steeped in Hawaiian history and tradition. It is renowned for treacherous ocean conditions and since Ka’iwi translates to the Hawaiian word for “bone,” it is also called “The Channel of Bones.” The Molokai to Oahu (M2O) 32 Mile World Championship Paddleboard Race across the Ka’iwi Channel can be quantified in various ways to express the scale of the endeavor and the scale of the achievement: the miles or kilometers between Molokai and Oahu; the number of hours it takes; the number of paddlers; the number of counties represented; the months or even years of preparation; the size of the board; the speeds of the wind; the size of the swell; the race expenses.
There aren’t many people where I’m from on the East Coast that even know about the race across this channel. When I’m asked about it, I normally use the ways its quantified to describe what I’ve done: its 32 miles, my board is 12 feet long, and last year it took me over 7 hours. I love seeing people’s reactions when I tell them I paddled 32 miles on a 12-foot board for 7 hours. And yes, my hands are my paddles. I love telling the story of how I won a “Guess your M2O time” pool and joke about being the only paid stock female because the day before last year's race I guessed 32 miles would take me 7 hours and 12 minutes. My official time: 7 hours 12 minutes and 6 seconds.
The feat can be further quantified by the fact that there aren’t many women who do the race. Out of the 260 participants this year, only 23 women made the solo crossing, including Kanesa Duncan Seraphin who had her 14th solo crossing this year. A few other women participated on teams this year, including Jolyn’s champs Leane Darling and Jen Noonan. Kanesa’s achievements have inspired so many women and I hope the achievements of all the women now in the race can collectively inspire even more to take on the Ka’iwi.
This year’s race has been described as possibly the worst conditions in race history. The only record broken was for the most people who had to pull out of the race: 19. I felt more than ready to best my first crossing’s time and ended up almost an hour slower this year. Just finishing is an accomplishment itself so much that it’s said that anyone who finishes, finishes first. That was especially true this year.
Molokai is quantified on a massive scale because the endeavor and the crossing are massive. Don’t get me wrong, I love articulating M2O this way. But despite all of the ways the Molokai to Oahu paddleboard championships are quantified, the Molokai paddleboard race is an experience that can’t be quantified. The meaning in the Molokai to Oahu Paddleboard race extends beyond far beyond the distance between Molokai and Oahu and what I’ve received from my crossings has far exceeded the distance of the Ka’iwi Channel.
Even though I’ve crossed “solo,” the support and camaraderie I’ve received from so many people involved with this race has been absolutely indispensable and it weren’t for that, I don’t know if I’d have ever made it or especially if I’d want to keep coming back. It is an honor and a privilege to stand on Molokai in a prayer circle holding hands with the group of athletes sharing the same endeavor. There are nerves and there is excitement, but most of all there is gratitude: gratitude for being on the Kaluakoi shoreline embarking into some of the most beautiful and powerful waters in the world with such a tremendous gathering of athletes, legends, and friends.
There comes a point when its not preparation, its not training, its not experience, its not diet. All of those things are indispensable and they shouldn't be ignored or taken for granted but there comes a point when the most important thing shifts to the amount of heart in the race. As physical as the race is, the real challenge has nothing to do with the physical and the real reward is far from anything physical. The journey is the destination and M2O is a journey I’ve been so blessed to take and a journey I hope to take again.
“What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving your goals.” - Henry David Thoreau