Meredith Loring and Sami Inkinen’s first date was paddling in a double canoe. Their first over-night date was climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro. Now, the San Francisco-based couple is hitched and they plan to row more than 2,400 miles, non-stop, across the Pacific Ocean, from California to Hawaii. (How’s that for “I love ya, babe?”)
While it might seem a little extreme, the twosome is totally inspiring. They’re on a mission to convince the public about the evils of this year’s bad guy—sugar. Of the 400 pounds of food they’ll need to store in their 20-by-5 foot boat, none have added sugar or processed carbohydrates—proving that you don’t need a Clif bar or Vitamin Water to refuel after a two-hour rowing shift (or barre, yoga, and boot camp for that matter).
The couple isn’t just raising awareness about sugar by choosing not to eat it; they’ve raised and donated more than $200,000 to benefit Dr. Robert Lustig’s organization, the Institute for Responsible Nutrition. Lustig is an American pediatric endocrinologist at the University of California, San Francisco, and the author of Fat Chance, which inspired the name of their trip, Fat Chance Row.
“If I can convince even one other person that sugar is actually not just bad for you—but for a lot of people it’s killing them. If I can do that, it will make me very happy,” says Inkinen.
Loring, a former software entrepreneur, and Inkinen, co-founder of the online real estate site Trulia, set row on their non-stop trip in early June. And by nonstop we mean that one of them will always be rowing—two hours on and two hours off—which they anticipate will take them two months. Yes, two months.
Oh, and the couple had zero prior rowing experience before they started training, “Our first date was maybe the first time we had oars in our hand before January,” says Loring.
But their training has included way more than reps on a rowing machine. “It’s like training for a marathon, you don’t want to run a marathon everyday,” says Inkinen. So the couple rows two to three times a week, and gets out on the water at least once a week. But they do strength training and they’re also going through some serious mental and educational training as well.
They’ve learned how to read maps like the backs of their hands (no, there won’t be a GPS!), taken an ocean survival class, and completed CPR, first aid, and radio training. While this might be their biggest feat yet, the pair is pretty familiar with adventure travel and accomplishing massive fitness goals.
Inkinen is a world champion triathlete and he’s competed in Hawaii’s Ironman seven times (we don’t think he ever stops moving). Loring has carried a mountain bike around Mt. Annapurna, over a 19,000 foot mountain pass, and has completed several multi-day cycling races.
Loring and Inkinen have some ideas about what they want to take away from this mega adventure, other than combating the evils of sugar (and sunburn). “I really want to learn how to be comfortable mentally in any situation,” Loring says.
It’s a good thing they took up meditation two years ago, we think it might come in handy. “I don’t know what I will learn, but I know it will be worth it,” Inkinen says. And we’ll be cheering them on from the shore (AKA the rowing studios here in New York). —Molly Gallagher