Keep Fit: I’m Participating in the Block Challenge!

kelly laffey paddleboard
Help me support Paddlers for Humanity in the 10th annual Block Challenge!

I’ve finally committed to doing the Block Challenge, an 18-mile open ocean paddle from Montauk Point to Block Island, occurring this Saturday, weather permitting. The event raises money for Paddlers for Humanity, a great organization that supports kids’ programs—including after-school, day care, arts and education—on the East End.

The decision to undertake this distance paddle is something I’ve been grappling with all summer. Stand up paddle boarding is one of my favorite activities, and the Block Challenge has always been something I’ve wanted to complete. The adventure-seeker in me signed up for the thrill of being out on the open ocean and the thought of completing something incredibly unique and totally out of my comfort zone.

For months I struggled with the idea of signing up while simultaneously spending as much time as possible on my board. Though I’ve been out on the water for hours at a time, I’m not sure I fully grasp what being out there for 18 miles will be like. But, I figure I’m embarking on a challenge much like people who bike across the country do. Does anyone really know how they’ll react in a situation they’ve never been in before? The idea of being in the middle of the ocean, and the possibility of dolphin sightings, is too much to pass up. I’ve come to the 11th hour realization that I’ve put in as much training as possible to complete this journey, and I’ll never be more ready than I am now. It’s a bit of the ‘now-or-never’ thinking. Who knows where I’ll be this time next year?

Out on the open water, my plan of attack is to just keep paddling. I know I have the skill to be in the middle of Block Island Sound, as I’ve been paddling regularly for the past three years—and much more frequently in anticipation of this challenge. I’m sure I will not be the fastest in the group, but I’ll definitely be one of the most motivated. The group breaks multiple times throughout the day for food and drink, and to ensure that all members of the group are staying together. For the stragglers, which admittedly I will come to be a part of, jet skis tow you back into the pod if you fall behind.

One of the greatest motivators was the amount of contact I’ve had with the organizers. I’ve emailed and called Paddlers for Humanity constantly throughout the summer. They provide incredible support during the event in the form of boats and nourishment. After the journey, paddlers enjoy a celebration on Block Island, before heading back to Montauk via ferry. I’m certain that a post-paddle beer will be necessary!

As a part of the journey, I’ll be raising money for Paddlers for Humanity. Among the organizations they support are the Bridgehampton School, Family Service League, i-tri and Project MOST. If anyone would like to make a donation, please click here. If you do make a donation, please do not do so anonymously. I’d like to thank everyone who makes this possible!

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