Outdoors: Row, row and really row your boat

On Jan. 3, Warren Wilson College grad Katie Spotz started rowing — solo — across the Atlantic in a 19-foot boat. She undertook the journey to raise money for the nonprofit Blue Planet Run Foundation, and if she completes the 2,500-mile, 70- to 100-day journey, she'll become the youngest person to accomplish the feat. Spotz has been featured in The New York Times, and Xpress has been chronicling her adventure online by relaying her "tweets" (short text messages) and blog posts. In her journey from Dakar, Senegal, on Africa's west coast to Cayenne in French Guiana, the young woman has reached the approximate halfway point.

Photo courtesy Katie Spotz

In the excerpt below, Spotz details one particularly challenging day, Sunday, Jan. 31:

"Every week or so it is important for me to check the bottom of the boat for slime and barnacles. If I see any growth, I simply scrub it off, making for a slightly faster ride.

[Sunday] was a smoldering hot day, so I thought around midday would be the perfect time to jump in and inspect the hull. In the morning, I heard and felt some bumping against the boat but thought it was just some fish. I also hit something with my oar, thinking again, must be a fish. A really big fish, perhaps.

I grabbed my snorkel, mask and scrubber and took a quick look into the water. I started to dangle my toes in the water but something did not feel quite right. Another glimpse and … there it was. It was deep in the water but looked too big to be a fish yet too small to be a shark. Either way, it certainly did not look friendly with green spikes. So I crawled my way back into the boat and decided to keep my mantra: "Just keep rowing."

As I was rowing along into the early evening, I felt it again: a loud thud, and the whole boat shook. Peering over the side, there it was — times eight. It looked like they were on a mission, the way they were swimming so quickly and closely to the boat. To me. Two hours of circling around and bumping into the boat.

But it was only a tuna!"
For updates on Spotzs' journey, see her Web site, http://rowforwater.com/. For the latest Xpress updates, see http://bit.ly/4Ru1yM. For more information about the nonprofit she's raising money for, see http://blueplanetrun.org.

Gear up for the Frostbite 5K

On Sunday, Feb. 21 — our ever-fickle weather permitting — Park Ridge Hospital will host its 18th annual Frostbite 5K Run and 1-Mile Fun Run/Walk. All race proceeds will benefit the Park Ridge KidPower ENERGIZE! Program, a free community service promoting the benefits of nutrition and exercise while combating childhood obesity and Type 2 Diabetes.

The event gets going at 2:30 p.m. Here are a few more details.

The 5K race takes place on a flat-to-gently rolling course, beginning at the hospital and finishing at the Lelia Patterson Center, located at the intersection of Howard Gap Road and Naples Road in Fletcher. Water and sports drinks will be available to runners throughout the course, and delicious cookies and fruit will be available to everyone after the race. Each runner's race time will be recorded using special devices. Registered 5K runners will receive a long-sleeved performance-fabric shirt, and all Fun Run/Walk participants will receive a long-sleeved T-shirt.

Registration for the 5K is $27 through Feb. 20 and $35 on race day. The Fun Run/Walk costs $10. Race packets for registered participants will be available Saturday, Feb. 20, at the Foot Rx Running Store in the Turtle Creek Shopping Center in south Asheville, located on Hendersonville Road. Race-day registration and packet pickup will take place at the Lelia Patterson Center from 1 to 2:15 p.m.

This year's Frostbite 5K will be held in conjunction with the Park Ridge Hospital Family Health Fair, a free event that will also be held at the Lelia Patterson Center from 1:30 to 5:30 p.m. on race day.
For more information or to obtain a registration form, call Duncan Sharrits at 681-2162. For more information about Park Ridge Hospital, visit www.parkridgehospital.org.

Margaret Williams can be reached at mvwilliams@mountainx.com or at 251-1333, ext. 152.

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About Margaret Williams
Editor Margaret Williams first wrote for Xpress in 1994. An Alabama native, she has lived in Western North Carolina since 1987 and completed her Masters of Liberal Arts & Sciences from UNC-Asheville in 2016. Follow me @mvwilliams

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