If you've ever paddled against the wind for a few hours, you've experienced the exhaustion that ensues. But imagine paddling with a headwind for nearly 24 hours, in a race against other paddlers and the clock. It's more than arduous and physically draining, but standup paddlers participating in the Spain 24, a 24-hour SUP challenge, overcame their impending exhaustion and the elements as they raced for an entire day with howling headwinds, poor visibility and decreasing temperatures.

The second event of the Standup Marathon Series' (SMS) five challenges, the Spain 24, kicked off in Arija, August 3 – 4. The day began with strong winds that increased, forcing officials to push back the early morning start to noon. As night approached, the wind eventually let up, but then, in rolled the fog, making the already difficult paddle even more challenging. “The wind picked up to 25 knots from the north and from four p.m., dense fog forced us to change the route," said race official Luis Garcia. "We were really thinking of abandoning the race, but participants were strong."

Ramón Blanco paddled into the first victory of the series, paddling 99.9km in the 24-hour challenge. "The distance traveled is not good, in that space of time I can make many more miles," said Blanco. But, despite the low mileage and challenging conditions, the Spaniard said, "[I'm] very pleased with the result, the organization and my fellow adventurers."

Two of the remaining events in the SMS will be held in Spain, with the final 5-day event to be held in Argentina. Next up, competitors will race between Santoña's Berria and St. Martin beaches in September. —SC


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