Morgan Hoesterey’s Journey to the M2O

By Morgan Hoesterey

I had completely written off the Molokai 2 Oahu race this year. Up until about three weeks before the event, I had made peace with the fact that my time spent in 2016 was less training and ocean playtime and more just trying to figure out how to handle life a little bit better. As a result, I decided that competing in one of the biggest races of the year probably wasn't the best idea.

I fell in love with this race back in 2008. It was the first big race I ever did and when it was over, my outlook on the sport had changed.  For the first time in my life, the goal was just to finish–to make it from one island to another.  For the first time ever, winning was completely irrelevant, it was only about the personal challenge.

With each year that’s gone by, I have lost a little bit of that feeling. The one where it isn't about trying to be the fastest one across the channel, but that feeling of wanting to go out and do something that scares me a little, just because I can.  As that feeling has diminished, so too has the fun factor associated with this race, which I think is what made it easy for me to write this year’s race off early on in the season.

So a few weeks prior to the race, as I sat down at my computer to let the race directors know that I was giving up my spot, something unexpected happened.

I couldn't do it.

I sat there, staring at an empty e-mail screen and my stomach started to hurt. The rational part of me knew that I hadn't put in the work–usually by this time I would have put in at least 3 months of training. However, my emotional side argued that this particular race means too much to me not to be there, especially on its 20th anniversary.

The way I saw it, I had 2 choices: mental pain or physical pain.

The mental pain would be the kind associated with knowing I missed out on something awesome. The physical pain would be the kind that comes along with trying to paddle 32 miles across one of the most notorious channels in the world on minimal training.

Being that mental pain is not my favorite thing, and also because my "I have no chance to win so I'm not going to play" mentality was completely ridiculous, the choice became easy…physical pain for the win.

Sometimes all you need to make something happen is a head that says you are willing, and a heart that says you can.

In my heart, I believed that I would make it across the channel, no matter how unpleasant things got. My head still wasn't sure, but after a little convincing from the people who know me the best, I decided that it was happening. I would standup paddle solo, on a 14' stock board.

Then as so often happens when you’re in the right place at the right time, the universe intervened.  My friend Will Taylor–editor of SUP Magazine and one of my favorite adventure buddies–had committed to a two-man team that turned into a three-man team. After a little bit of negotiating, I was able to convince him that if he were to do a two-person team with me, everyone involved would get more time to paddle in the channel and have more fun. My would-be epic fail had turned into an awesome opportunity and I could not have been happier.

It is difficult to actually describe this race to someone who has never done it.  There is an energy and legacy about it, and just being there in any capacity is a special thing. Everyone who makes their way to the start line has a different story behind how they got there, and a different reason for doing so.

My story this particular time came from deciding to alter my definition of success–to tap back into that first crossing in 2008 where winning the race wasn't even on the radar. The only thing that mattered then was making it from Kalua Koi on Molokai to Hawaii Kai on Oahu.  Success this time had nothing to do with where we placed, but was only contingent upon whether or not Will and I were able to have as much fun as possible and being able to appreciate this amazing place.

I can't speak for Will, but I'm definitely calling it a success.

This version has been edited, read Morgan’s full post on the Future Fins website. 

Print feature about competing at the 2016 M2O coming in the Spring 2017 issue. 


Complete photo gallery and recap of the 2016 M2O.

Recap video to relive the 2016 M2O.