Rowers push their limits, causes in Great Pacific Race

Mary Rose (Photo: Chirping Central)

The week need not apply when it comes to the Great Pacific Race.

The contest, billed as the biggest, baddest human endurance challenge on the planet, features 13 teams in a grueling challenge.

Crews from around the world are currently rowing 2,400 miles from Monterey, Calif. to Hawaii in one-, two- and four-person high-tech boats. There are no sails or engines. The boats are powered only by arm strength.

“Some are truly in it for the competition and they want to make the Guinness World Book of Records of rowing the Pacific the fastest, but others are doing it more to just gather the attention to the causes that they have,” said Jana Julleis.

Several years ago, United Kingdom rower Roz Savage became the first woman to row solo across the Pacific Ocean with hopes of raising awareness about ocean pollution.

One of four rowers making the crossing alone for this race is doing it for a purpose as well.

Friends admit, Mary Rose is not a world-class athlete, but for the past two years she’s trained hard for this event, motivated by her passion.

“Boy this is a grueling test for her. All of her friends think she’s crazy, but we understand why she’s doing it,” Julleis said. “If you knew Mary, you would understand how passionate she is about birds and conservation and she always would say she wish she could do more.”

Rose is doing that now. Julleis, her best friend, who is also an executive with Blood Bank of Hawaii and a member of the Aloha Hawaiian Parrot Association, is watching Rose’s progress closely.

(This is) what are the viewers seeing at home. This is a tracking map that shows where all of the boats are currently located this little purple dot is Mary,” she explained. “She still has 2,082 nautical miles.”

Some crews will take 30 days, but the 43-year-old Rose could take more than 90.

“She believes very strongly that if it’s a man-made problem, there can be a man-made solution,” Julleis said.

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