Josh Forester is attempting a record-setting 400-mile, 100-hour paddle around Georgia’s largest lake

Have there ever been similar lake circumnavigations?

The only other person to have circumnavigated Lake Lanier was Dana Richardson, as part of her push for pancreatic cancer awareness. It took her 9 months to do it because she was doing it incrementally.  I’m going to try to get that down to 5 days. Circumnavigating around the shoreline of a lake is tricky.  I had to try to define something that made speed records comparable and fair, and ran it through a number of paddling groups to vet them out. 

How have you been training? 

Paddling multiple times a week four hours at a time; rock climbing because of the grip strength and core work; running for high intensity cardio cross training.  I’ve also been sleeping in an altitude tent.

What is especially challenging about Lake Lanier? 

Lake Lanier has the longest shoreline of all the lakes exclusively in Georgia.  I’ve lived in the Atlanta area since 2005, and there’s a point of pride for me that comes with being a Georgian and all of our natural resources and wilderness recreation opportunities.  Being an avid adventurer, I’ve spent a lot of time flatwater paddling on Lake Lanier. It’s kind of a home within my home.

How do you take care of your hands for 100 hours of paddling?

I don’t know. I’ve not paddled that long before. It is literally ten times longer than the longest paddle I had ever done. I’m one of those crazy endurance athlete types. So I suppose we have to wait and see. I’m sure some gross photos will come out of it.

How will you handle sleep deprivation? 

I’ve stayed awake for over 40 or so hours continuously, and while exercising. But the key difference there was I had people with me.  When you are paddling on a dark lake at night and the water is glass, the rhythmic rocking is quite the siren’s call. I do suspect I’ll be taking naps on the shoreline—maybe 2-3 hours a night over the course of the 5 days.

What are you most nervous about? What are some of the unknowns?

Missing turns. At night it’s incredibly easy to miss an inlet.  

Where do you find energy or inspiration?

Years of adventure racing has taught me that things not going your way is part of life. I kind of live with that expectation to begin with, and I’m never disappointed. But sometimes I’m pleasantly surprised by the good things that happen.  So I guess I just choose different things to notice.

What are your go-to foods and drinks?

Vanilla Ensure Plus.  So good with oatmeal creme pies. 

Any quotes or mantras that you rely on?

It’s more of a general theme that suffering both reveals and improves upon character. If you really to want to get to know someone, go through something soul-crushingly hard with them. It will reveal who they are. Every now and then, you should get to know yourself in the same way.