The Big Ole SUP-athon is unique among Midwestern paddlesport events because of its length and relaxed, family-friendly attitude. Spacious courses allow both competitive and recreational paddlers to go at their own pace. SUPers, canoeists and kayakers of all skill levels will enjoy themselves while navigating the scenic waterways of Douglas County.
The Big Ole SUP-athon is a two-day paddlesport event designed to strengthen the connection between the people and the lakes of West-Central Minnesota while raising funds for the local chapter of the United Way. The Big Ole SUP-athon (BOS) offers courses of 2.5, 6, 11.5 and 26 miles to be enjoyed by paddlers of all skill levels. The Big Ole SUP-athon begins at 5PM on Thursday, July 13th at Bugaboo Bay with the BOS Check-In & Packet Pick-Up. Brief, mandatory meetings for volunteers and paddlers begin at 5:30 and 6PM, respectively. The 1 mile West Bay Relay in the West Bay of Lake Le Homme Dieu runs from 6PM to 9PM at Bugaboo Bay's beach.
On Friday, July 14th, our main event, the 26 mi Big Ole SUP-athon, begins at 7AM at the East Lake Miltona Public Access and spans 13 lakes and ends at the Lake Victoria Public Access. The BOS, SVEN & LENA courses are fully-supported by BOS organizers and volunteers with food and water stationed every 2-5 miles. The 11.5 mi SVEN begins at 9AM at the Lake Charlie Access, spans 9 lakes and ends at Bugaboo Bay's beach in the West Bay of Lake L'Homme Dieu. The 6 mi LENA begins at 11AM at the Lake Charlie Access and ends at the Lake Cowdry Public Access. West Bay events run from 12 to 5PM. Medals will be awarded to the top 3 Men's & Women's finishers for each course at ~5:30PM at Bugaboo Bay, followed by a celebratory post-race dinner.
SAFETY IS OUR HIGHEST PRIORITY
Safety must be the highest priority if the Big Ole SUP-athon is to be sustained as an annual event. BOS organizers are required to permit the event with the City of Alexandria and the Douglas Co. Sheriff's Office's Water Patrol Unit. BOS organizers and local governments and law enforcement agencies recognize that heavy weekend boat traffic on the Chain of Lakes makes it untenable to safely hold the BOS on a Saturday or Sunday. We really appreciate you taking a Friday off and spending it with us! Although BOS organizers and staff attempt to make the event as safe as possible with stringent rules, regular supervision and abundant water and food along the course, we still need BOS participants to make the best and safest decisions for themselves. Our BOS safety strategy begins with participants reading the rules, regulations, advice and safety tips and studying the course maps and registering for the course that suits their abilities. Our BOS safety strategy must extend beyond the water to include participants and spectators using seat belts, tightly securing their paddlecraft to their vehicles, parking in safe places and safely crossing busy roadways before, during and after the event.
2017 Big Ole SUP-athon RULES
1. ALL PARTICIPANTS must be 12 or older and complete the waiver
form. Minors age 12-17 must have their parent sign their waiver and follow
additional safety rules.
2. ALL PARTICIPANTS must possess a U.S. Coast Guard approved Personal Flotation Device (PFD) in
serviceable condition and suited for their height and weight.
3. ALL PARTICIPANTS must possess the clip-on safety whistle provided to them.
4. ALL PARTICIPANTS MUST POSSESS A PFD AND EMPLOY A SAFETY LEASH. ALL PARTICIPANTS must wear their PFD if they are >500
m (1640 ft) from shore. Applies on Lakes Miltona, Ida, Darling, Carlos,
L'Homme Dieu and Geneva.
5. ALL PARTICIPANTS exiting their course prior to finishing
must notify BOS staff.
6. BOS staff can end a participants' race IF staff feels it’s
unsafe for them to continue.
7. PARTICIPANTS’ emergency contact cannot be another BOS participant.
Emergency contacts should be aware of the event and the participant's pertinent
8. ALL PARTICIPANTS must be punctual for their event. We
recommend paddlers arrive 20 minutes before the scheduled start. Tardy
participants can start a later, shorter
course, if possible.
9. ALL PARTICIPANTS must pass through low culverts while lying
face down on their SUP or crouched low in their paddlecraft. IF a participant
falls while in a culvert, they must continue onward to the outlet and then
gather their personal belongings.
ALL SVEN & BIG OLE SUP-ATHON (BOS) paddlers must carry water.
Inexperienced paddlers will not be allowed to rent paddlecraft
from BOS organizers to attempt the 26 mi Big Ole SUP-athon. Organizers have
total discretion on rentals.
ALL PARTICIPANTS must be patient when
navigating narrow, inter-lake streams and short culverts beneath
roadways. Slower paddlers should yield to faster paddlers, letting them pass on
the left, when safe and convenient. Restrictive waterways are a small portion
of the BOS, SVEN and LENA courses and the current will increase your speed so
"relax and go with the flow!"
ALL SVEN & BIG OLE SUP-ATHON paddlers must check-in with BOS
staff at Rotary Beach on L'Homme Dieu for a mandatory 2-minute rest &
ALL BIG OLE SUP-ATHON paddlers must average 2.6 mph,
including all rest breaks, to be permitted to complete the full course after
departing Rotary Beach.
DOUGLAS CO & MN DNR REGULATIONS
BOS ADVICE & SAFETY TIPS
1. Participants are recommended to wear loose,
synthetic fabrics, hats, wind-breakers, sunglasses, sunscreen & shoes or sandals. It’s recommended that BOS paddlers wear gloves and carry a hydration pack, dry bag & mobile phone.
2. BOS paddlers should drink ~5 L (170 oz.) of fluids and eat ~2000 Cal in snacks. SVEN paddlers = 3 L (100 oz.) & 1000 cal. LENA
paddlers = 2 L (68 oz.) & 500 cal.
3. Hazards in streams and culverts include currents, wave trains, rocks
& woody debris.
4. Participants are paddling on public waters and
must remain aware of their surroundings, especially around boaters. If a boat
is too close for comfort, stand tall, shout, raise your arms and wave your arms
or paddle. Participants can take a less direct route along the shoreline
if boat traffic is too high for their comfort.
5. Keep an eye on the sky and ask BOS staff about the weather, if needed.
6. A longer route better sheltered from the wind and waves may be
7. Participants should wear their PFD if paddling in adverse
8. Participants too fatigued to enjoy themselves are encouraged to
exit the race.
9. Participants should bring a towel, fresh clothes and shoes to
Fins longer than 1 foot may occasionally touch the bottom of
EXITING THE RACE BEFORE FINISHING
Participants may not be able to complete their course because of fatigue, equipment issues or inclement weather. The following is a list of addresses of all exit points along the Big Ole SUP-athon, SVEN & LENA courses.
# Location Address - Alexandria (56308) Comment
1. CR 5 Culvert 1350 CR 5 NW
2. W. Lk Charley 5100 Sunset Strip NW START - SVEN & LENA
3. N. Lk Louise 3700 Sunset Strip NW
4. Louise - N. Union 3000 CR 22 NW
5. SW Lk Cowdry 650 W Lk Cowdry Rd
6. Cowdry Access 899 E. Lk Cowdry Rd FINISH - LENA
7. S. Lk Darling 2101 CR 22 NW
8. Carlos-Darling Bridge 251 Carlos-Darling Dr NE
9. Rotary Beach 4701 CR 42 NE
10. Bugaboo Bay 2800 N. Nokomis NE FINISH - SVEN
11. N. Lk Geneva Access 2218 Geneva Rd NE
12. Geneva-Victoria Bridge 3295 CR 82 SE
CURRENT WEATHER & WEATHER POLICY
The Big Ole SUP-athon is a charitable event that takes months of
planning and dozens of volunteers to execute. BOS
organizers must select a far-off Friday and hope for a calm, sunny
day. The BOS has significant expenses and out-of-town participants, so
organizers cannot reschedule or offer refunds if unsafe weather conditions (high
winds, thunderstorms & lightning) require organizers deviate from the schedule
or cancel the event. Organizers reserve the right to postpone start times,
suspend the event, or prematurely end the event if weather poses a threat to participant
safety. Decisions to deviate from the schedule because of weather will NOT be
taken lightly or made hastily.
The great extent of the courses, multiple races and the varying speeds of paddlers makes the Big Ole SUP-athon a complicated dance to choreograph. The BOS needs adults to volunteer about 5-6 hours to ensure the event is a safe and enjoyable one for all paddlers. Volunteers should have a reliable vehicle or pontoon, mobile phone and a large cooler. Volunteers must attend a brief meeting at 5:30pm on Thur. 7/13 at Bugaboo Bay where they receive their instructions, schedule and ice, food and water. If you are interested, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
1. Promote paddlesports and the use of non-motorized watercraft in West-Central Minnesota.
The Big Ole
SUP-athon is an idea of Scott Larson and Jason Lybeck. Scott, a former
Alexandrian, purchased a SUP from Jason & Faction Boardshop in early 2014. While planning an August trip back to Alexandria, Scott used Google Earth to see that a 26 mile, marathon-length course through 13 lakes required he simply hop over two small dams. On Aug. 8th, 2014,
Scott completed the 26 mile course in ~12 hours, leisurely paddling Jason's SurfTech Flowmaster and stopping to snack, rehydrate, enjoy the scenery and post status updates. Scott's mettle was tested battling white caps and 20 MPH headwinds on the last 3 lakes - the Big Ole SUP-athon was
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