Every since we started adventure racing in Florida we’ve had two complaints: 1. the topography is flat (hello beaches) so the orienteering isn’t exactly the most challenging and 2. 6-8 hours of race running, biking and paddling in the sun are not the most enjoyable ways to spend a weekend. Needless to say when we heard about an overnight adventure race in a bioluminescent bay – meaning running, biking, and paddling around in the middle of the night on a giant scavenger hunt- we said what any adventurous soul would say- “Yes”.
Fast forward to 10:30 p.m. the night of the race. A half hour into the race and we were paddling along the small islands that line Florida’s Intracoastal Waterway in an area known as Mosquito Lagoon. Scouring the map with our red light, we tried to count inlets to determine where to make the correct turn instead of heading out to sea. Shrimp literally jumped into our boat as we paddled along the shoreline. By the time all was said and done we had inadvertently caught four shrimp and one fish, paddled next to a dolphin and succeeded in finding our way back to shore. It felt like a herculean achievement, even if we didn’t seen any luminescence.
Navigating at night is no small challenge, but we made it through the entire race without being too terribly lost and only meeting a few unmarked swamps. By 6 a.m., just as the sky was starting to brighten with the morning sun, we pulled into the finish line punch cards in hand. It was a night adventure we may never forget and may never choose to redo…..
IF YOU GO: The Florida Coastline is gorgeous. Besides the sandy beaches, just inland along the intracoastal there are wilderness areas filled with mangrove trees, dolphins and manatees. If you you are staying in Ocean Florida Villas you’ll have access to the water at night. Be prepared with good navigation skills, a good map and appropriate emergency gear (more than just a cell phone!).