Katie Spotz On Mental Preparation
“Stolen: One pair of oars. Reward offered.” Katie Spotz would
like her oars back. They were taken, along with her minivan, from
the street in Cleveland, Ohio, where she lives. The oars were only
really used once, on a 2,817 mile trip from Senegal to Guyana,
when Spotz became, at 22, the youngest person to row across an
ocean by herself.
A self-described benchwarmer in school athletics, Spotz has
made a specialty of testing her physical and mental endurance.
Her other adventures have included jogging across the Mojave
Desert, bicycling across the United States, and swimming the 350-
Katie Spotz with her oars ... in happier times.
mile length of the Allegheny River.
“Everyone can do endurance,” she says. “It’s just the mental
aspect, that’s really where the challenge lies, not in being big and
tough and strong. With endurance, you’ll see that. You’ll see big,
tough, strong men, and many times they’re the ones who are calling in for help.”
Spotz didn’t call for help, even at the end of her 70-day jour-
ney, when 25-foot waves forced her to travel an extra 400 miles to
land safely. “For the last week or so, I was really waking up every
few hours, changing course, trying to do my best to reach land,”
she says. “There was really no way for me to land safely without a
boat towing me in, and I wasn’t really interested in that. I wanted
to do it all, every mile.”
Her boat, Liv, a purpose-built ocean rower, used solar panels
to power the AIS, GPS, VHF radio, laptop, and satellite phone,
which she used to update her twitter account and blog (sample
tweet: “If anyone wants to set up a lemonade stand at 8N 31W,
it could be a very lucrative business right now. Or ice cream,
please!”). Spotz slept in the 19-foot boat’s small cabin, strapped
into her bunk. She avoided shipping channels, and says she saw
another boat about once a week. During the day, she stayed teth-
ered to the boat (“Me and the boat, we stayed close. We stayed
friends,” she says). By the end of her journey, she had raised
$100,000 for Blue Planet Run, which provides clean drinking
water to people in Third World countries.
Back in Cleveland, she’s working for one of her sponsors
while she plans her next adventure (she wouldn’t divulge the
details). Oh, and if you should happen to find the oars, there is a
reward: Spotz will take you on a boat trip across Lake Erie. She’ll
do the rowing. —C.L.
PHOTO COURTESY KATIE SPOTZ
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