“The conditions were so rough that we didn’t even make it all the way out to the Farallones,” writes Karen Rogers on her blog. “I never put my suit on or had the chance to get in the water.” This from a woman who trained for a year to swim from the Farallon Islands off San Francisco, to the Golden Gate Bridge, a 30+ mile swim only done twice, back in 1967. Let’s put it this way, the last 6 person relay team to try it bailed because their 5th swimmer became disoriented. And if Rogers waits till October for calmer seas, she runs the risk of hitting shark season. Yeah, those big nasty ones with White as their last name. Safe to say Karen Rogers is challenging herself. But the disappointment of not even getting in the water to give it a go is sometimes an even harder challenge.

During Karen’s last visit to the GU offices to pick up some goodies to fuel her swim, everybody was excited. Her goal was ambitious, her training disciplined. Just look at her training swims:

  • Donner Lake Quad Crossing, 11.04 miles, 5 hours 24 minutes
  • Solo length of Lake Tahoe, 21.5 miles, 10 hours 50 minutes
  • Richmond San Rafael Bridge to Point Bonita, 14 miles, 3 hours 20 minutes (water temp 50 deg. F.)
  • Sea Buoy to Golden Gate Bridge, 12.65 miles, 4 hours 30 minutes (51 degrees F.)
  • Golden Gate to San Mateo Bridge, 23 miles, 7 hours 21 minutes

Like everybody, we were expecting to see her touch the bridge on that Friday. But big-time goals sometimes require big-time patience. As she wrote after having to abort the swim, “The emotions are just starting to set in right now. I am going to sleep it off and go back to the drawing board.”

But this level of challenge, patience and perseverance should probably be expected given the history of this goal. The first successful crossing from the Farallones to the mainland came in 1967 by Lt. Colonel Stewart Evans when he touched land at Bolinas, California. This was in response to a friendly competition between Evans and Ted Erikson. Erikson had twice tried earlier but been beaten by sharks (3 came within 50 feet and were scared away by gunshots from a pilot boat), strong currents, hypothermia and jelly fish stings. It was Erikson who was first to complete the coveted Farallones to Golden Gate Bridge route in 1967. But nobody has done the swim since. Could be the sharks, maybe the current, or the 20-30 foot swells that got in the way of Rogers’ attempt and turned Erikson around after he got too seasick to continue. But as she noted after turning around en route to the Farallones, “This swim still needs to be conquered!”

If you challenge yourself, plan to be challenged right back. Now that we’re in the middle of race season when it’s time to take all that fitness, fitness built up over months, years and sometimes lifetimes, and put it to the test, it’s important to remember setbacks might (and probably will) occur. But Karen is ready and doing laps of Lake Tahoe to keep her busy.

The GU Energy team has a unique perspective on endurance efforts and the athletes that undertake them  – we make the fuel that helps people dig deep to wrestle their big burly goals to the ground and are surrounded by athletes who routinely challenge themselves like Karen Rogers. And we can’t help but continually be amazed at the people who undertake these challenges, and accomplish their goals, no matter the obstacles.

So as the summer peaks and you lace up, clip in and jump into your challenges, remember that setbacks are lurking, waiting to be overcome. We can’t wait to see Karen touch the bridge soon. Go far and go fast.



sfgate.com – http://bit.ly/9L212O

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