Q&A with Katie Spotz

  • Article by: MICHAEL RAND , Star Tribune
  • Updated: May 1, 2011 - 12:14 AM

In 2010, at age 22, Katie Spotz became the youngest person to row solo across the Atlantic Ocean -- a 3,038-mile journey. She will make appearances at local schools this week.

In 2010, at age 22, Katie Spotz became the youngest person to row solo across the Atlantic Ocean -- a 3,038-mile journey that lasted 70 days and helped raise awareness of the need for clean drinking water worldwide. Spotz, a native of Ohio who just turned 24, works in marketing for Kinetico Incorporated, a water treatment company that also sponsored her record-setting row. She will make appearances at local schools this week and on Saturday at Aquarius Water Conditioning in Little Canada. In advance of her trip, Spotz took some time to chat with the Star Tribune's Michael Rand.

Let's start with your mindset. You graduated high school at age 16. You started numerous other endeavors at a very young age. Have you always had an inkling that you wanted to live an extraordinary life, or was there an "a-ha!" moment for you?

If you would ask any of my sport coaches growing up -- swimming, track, rowing -- and told them what I was doing right now, they wouldn't believe it. I was a benchwarmer in every single sport I was involved in. But when I turned 18, I signed up for a running/walking group, running a couple miles a few times a week. I remember my first five-mile run I was so thrilled. I was slowly and gradually adding miles each week, and I considered doing a marathon. And that was the moment I realized, "We are all capable of doing a lot more than we think" and the only thing holding me back was me. I was curious to see what else I could do. It started very small with breaking through that first wall.

That led to a 3,300-mile bike ride from Seattle to Washington D.C., a 150-mile desert run, a river swim, not to mention your ocean row. What motivates you?

When you are doing something where things will go wrong, and things will come up constantly, you have to have something you believe in. ... When I was in Australia going to college, they were experiencing extreme drought, all sorts of restrictions on water issues. I was studying environmental science and I remember the professor saying the war of the future will be on water, not oil. A week later I was on a bus and someone mentioned a friend had rowed across the Atlantic Ocean twice. I became intrigued, borderline obsessed.

Seventy days and 3,000 miles are a long time and distance. Aside from focusing on technique, what sorts of things does a person think about with all that solitude?

I'd love to say I figured out and pondered all of life's greatest questions. But honestly I was listening to audio books and music on my iPod. Sometimes when I was really tired I could only think about food and very basic things.

But one thing I can say is that when you are out there and experiencing any emotion, they are heightened. The highs were the deepest highs, and the lows were the deepest lows. It was a roller-coaster because I was alone. I didn't have a support boat.


That's the one thing people assume. But I don't think it would appeal to me to know that I could quit at any given moment. I wanted to put myself in a situation that required me to dig deeper, and knowing that if something was broke I had to fix it.

I was after an experience that would challenge me on all levels. The best moments were encounters with the wildlife. At one point I had 20 dolphins around my boat, and they were doing all sorts of flips and tricks.

So what's the next big project?

The event is called Ride For Your Lives (www.ridefor yourlives.com) and it's a non-profit bicycle race with a partner where we ride two hours on and two hours off for 24 hours a day, seven days a week, across the country (starting June 18 in California). The record is seven days, 21 hours. That's what we're going for.

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Chicago 17 FINAL
Detroit 34
Philadelphia 33 FINAL
Dallas 10
Seattle 13 2nd Qtr 2:00
San Francisco 0
Cleveland 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Washington 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Tennessee 11/30/14 12:00 PM
San Diego 11/30/14 12:00 PM
NY Giants 11/30/14 12:00 PM
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Green Bay
Denver 11/30/14 7:30 PM
Kansas City
Miami 12/1/14 7:30 PM
NY Jets
Edmonton 0 3rd Prd
Nashville 0
Robert Morris 71
Santa Clara 57 FINAL
Tennessee 64
Oklahoma 59 FINAL
Butler 46
Austin Peay 79 FINAL
Brown 58
Princeton 56 FINAL
Texas-El Paso 62
Coastal Carolina 67 FINAL
Chattanooga 78
Kansas 76 FINAL
Rhode Island 60
Wisconsin 68 FINAL
Georgetown 65
USC Upstate 68
Long Island 54 FINAL
Stony Brook 73
San Diego 71 FINAL
Xavier 82
Illinois 88 FINAL
Indiana State 62
Cal State Fullerton 67 FINAL
Wright State 62
Western Ky 62 FINAL
Saint Josephs 59
Michigan State 77 FINAL
Rider 45
North Carolina 78
Long Beach State 37 2nd Half 14:27
Western Mich 38
Marquette 29 2nd Half 18:57
Georgia Tech 33
Stephen F Austin 24 1st Half 3:14
Prairie View 21
UAB 12 1st Half 10:16
Florida 5
Rice 13 1st Half 12:47
Mercer 9
San Jose St 10:00 PM
Washington St 10:59 PM
UC Santa Barbara
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LSU 20 3rd Qtr 5:08
Texas A&M 7
(6) TCU 20 3rd Qtr 6:02
Texas 3
Northern Ill 11/28/14 10:00 AM
Western Mich
Nebraska 11/28/14 11:00 AM
Western Ky 11/28/14 11:00 AM
(19) Marshall
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(17) Missouri
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(12) Arizona
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(9) UCLA
(21) Colorado State 11/28/14 2:30 PM
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Virginia Tech
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North Texas 11/29/14 11:00 AM
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(8) Georgia
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(24) Louisville
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(23) Clemson
West Virginia 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Iowa State
Rice 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Louisiana Tech
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(7) Ohio State
Purdue 11/29/14 11:00 AM
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NC State 11/29/14 11:30 AM
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(4) Miss State 11/29/14 2:30 PM
(18) Ole Miss
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Penn State
(22) Minnesota 11/29/14 2:30 PM
(14) Wisconsin
(5) Baylor 11/29/14 2:30 PM
Texas Tech
Florida 11/29/14 2:30 PM
(1) Florida State
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San Jose St 11/29/14 2:30 PM
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(11) Kansas State
Connecticut 11/29/14 3:00 PM
BYU 11/29/14 3:30 PM
ULM 11/29/14 5:00 PM
Ga Southern
Middle Tennessee 11/29/14 6:00 PM
Texas-El Paso
Hawaii 11/29/14 6:00 PM
Fresno State
Wake Forest 11/29/14 6:00 PM
Pittsburgh 11/29/14 6:00 PM
(15) Auburn 11/29/14 6:45 PM
(2) Alabama
(3) Oregon 11/29/14 7:00 PM
Oregon State
Utah State 11/29/14 9:15 PM
(25) Boise State
Washington 11/29/14 9:30 PM
Washington St
Nevada 11/29/14 9:30 PM
UCF 12/4/14 6:30 PM
East Carolina
Hamilton 11/30/14 5:00 PM
Hartford 43 FINAL
Furman 53
Clemson 77 FINAL
Ohio State 86
Idaho State 53 FINAL
San Diego State 68
East Carolina 58 FINAL
(22) Syracuse 69
Santa Clara 0 Cancelled
Texas-El Paso 0
Florida State 68 FINAL
Washington 80
Wichita State 39 FINAL
Fla Gulf Coast 56
Wisconsin 44 FINAL
(1) South Carolina 67
Kansas State 0 Cancelled
BYU-Hawaii 52
Charlotte 58 FINAL
Montana 67
Illinois 77 FINAL
(9) Kentucky 71
Central Michigan 59 2nd Half 0:20
Richmond 56
Oklahoma 43 2nd Half 11:57
South Florida 54
Princeton 46 2nd Half 13:56
Wake Forest 34
(19) Oregon State 50 2nd Half 2:00
Butler 82


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