Standup paddling is almost custom built for expeditions. Take any body of water, add an adventurous soul and throw in an idea and you’re on your way. Paddlers the world over are taking advantage of that simplicity and accessibility of SUP adventures. Everyman adventures like Scott Mestrezat’s trip down the Missouri inspire all of us. Justin Riney’s paddle for the conservation of Florida’s wetlands keep us looking to the future. And grueling battles like Chris Bertish’s paddle up the west coast of South Africa or Bart de Zwart’s non-stop 11-Cities Tour or Shane Perrin’s Everglades Challenge show us what humans can endure and accomplish. For the 2013 SUP Awards we picked these five journeys to represent the best the sport had to offer from different ends of the spectrum. Here we give you an in-their-own-words glimpse into each journey. Be sure to stay tuned to for full coverage and results.

Scott Mestrezat
Down the Missouri
“For as long as I could remember I just wanted to do a journey, something that would take a few months that I could get totally immersed in. There have been days when I don't see people but civilization is not too far off and others where I didn’t have any cell service and only have GPS for a life-or-death situation. I've never been that far away from civilization.”

Chris Bertish
South Africa
“When you paddle past a shark swimming in the opposite direction and you don’t even stress about whether it’s going to turn around and follow or bite you, it makes you realize you are just focusing on the key elements of survival. Everything else is trivial.”

Bart de Zwart
11-Cities Non-stop
“Most important is your mental ability to grind. It is hard when it's dark and you are tired, cold and wet. You have to want it really hard to do this. Your mental state is harder to train or prepare for— you have to build this little by little, and you to have it in you a little too. When you are sure you can do it when you start, you will do it.”

Justin Riney
Expedition Florida 500
“We saw 183 alligators in one day on the Kissimmee. Sharks, crocodiles, snakes, birds, manatees, dolphins, lots of bugs, rodents, turtles, bald eagles—Florida has so many unique ecosystems, and it's a thriving paradise for thousands of species of plants and animals. I've become quite the student of learning about the vegetation and local wildlife; I catch myself getting excited about things I would have never taken an interest in if I hadn't seen them firsthand.”

Shane Perrin

Everglades Plus

“I was on a 100-mile stretch where you’re cut off from vicilization completely, doing it in 34 hours with two hours sleep. At about 4 am I was severely hallucinating and was having a full-blown conversation with my son who was in front of me. I remember telling him he couldn’t be out here with daddy because it was dangerous. He wanted to stay with me. As the conversation went on I ended up falling off the side of my board.”