Adventurer Katie Spotz told Joe Rogan it was a conversation on a bus that led to the biggest quest of her life. Spotz is the youngest person to solo row across the Atlantic Ocean. She completed the amazing task in 2010 when she was 23, starting out in Dakar, Senegal, and rowing 3,000 miles to Guyana.
“I was on a bus and I was talking to someone who was sitting next to me and we were talking about endurance challenges and I was a stubborn, know-it-all 19-year-old, so of course I was like, ‘I’ve heard it all, I know people climb Mount Everest, I know people sail around the world. I know about all these things.’ And then he mentioned his friend rowed across the Atlantic and that was just stopped me in my tracks. I was like, ‘What? People can do that?’ It was so far beyond anything I ever imagined,” Spotz told Rogan on an April 2021 episode of The Joe Rogan Experience podcast.
Two years later, after research, training and logistical preparation, Spotz hit the water and spent 70 days alone on the Atlantic Ocean.
“What’s so cool about endurance is at a certain point everyone’s body hurts. So what makes endurance a really cool experience is seeing how the human will and determination, how a strong mind, it’s a requirement, because everyone, no matter how fast or slow you are, is going through that mental wall,” Spotz told Rogan. “And so, I found out about ocean rowing and I was really captivated, not only by that mental component, because, if you do a marathon, you go home, you take a shower, you have people cheering you on. But ocean rowing you’re stripped raw of that. And something about that was intriguing to me. Because how can you dig deep internally when you don’t have the finish line party and the swag and the people and the nice cozy bed.
She added, “I liked that idea of being so stripped raw that you have to dig deeper than you ever would if you didn’t have all those other externals.”
According to her website, Spotz, an Ohio native who graduated from Warren Wilson College in North Carolina in 2008, began endurance challenges in 2006. She has competed in Ironman events, ultramarathons and cycled across the United States. She is also the only person to have swam the entire 325-mile Allegheny River, her website says, and the first woman to run nonstop across the states of Maine, Vermont and New Hampshire.
Spotz Told Rogan the Adventure Was Like ‘Living a National Geographic Experience’
Spotz told Rogan, “I found out about it on a bus, I went home and went and Googled everything I could about ocean rowing. It was at a time when I did my first ultra marathon, so it was like a 100km run, or 62 miles, and it was again one of those moments where I was like, ‘I never thought I could do that.’ And my body proved otherwise. So what are all the other things that I’m saying I can’t do, but maybe I can. It was really that information at that particular time where I was really open to the idea, ‘Wow maybe it is possible.’ But it was a matter of researching everything.”
Spotz told Rogan she trained for two years and about 90% of the training and preparation was about logistics. She also spent time rowing on Lake Erie.
“You could be the most fit person in the world, but if you don’t have a boat, what does it matter. So I spent most of my time sorting through all the logistics, the sponsorship, getting the gear, training with the gear,” Spotz said. “My training priorities for rowing and ocean were injury prevention. So I did a lot with strengthening my core and lower back. And on the weekends is when I would do a 6 to 8-hour training row just to get used to the boat and the equipment more than anything else.”
Spotz said, “My boat was a 19-foot rowboat, it was like 400 pounds, but once it was fully loaded, it was a 1,000 pounds. It did have a sliding seat. So that meant my legs and my back were the main source of power. … The power was coming from the most powerful parts of my body, not my arms. Some people assume it’s just your upper body, it’s just your arm, but in facts it’s more your legs and back.”
Spotz with alone on the water with no follow boat. She had a tracker on so people could look online and see where she was.
“It was pretty amazing. Of course the stars were amazing, shooting stars and just breathtaking. I think the most stunning part was actually looking in the water, because there was this type of glowing plankton, so it was like a phosphorescence,” Spotz tol Rogan. “Sometimes I would see things glowing in the distance and then all around my boat, anytime my oar hit the water, I’d see all of that. I was so busy planning the trip and the logistics that I didn’t know what wildlife I’d see, so it was definitely a pleasant surprise. ”
She added, “In someways it felt like I was just living this National Geographic experience. I had dolphins come right up to my boat. The dolphins and sharks and birds and I even had fish following right under my boat, because barnacles would grow on the side of my boat, I would scrub them off, but sometimes they’d just keep following my boat. Birds that came on my boat.”
Spotz Uses Her Adventures to Raise Money & Awareness for Causes, Including Clean Water
Spotz told Rogan on the JRE episode #1635 that clean water is a cause she has embraced as one she wants to raise awareness about. “I was living in Australia and they were experience a very significant drought,” Spotz said. “And Australia is very developed, and to see the major headlines and to see the rules, like ‘Oh you can’t water your grass right now, you can’t wash your car right now,’ and just to see that happening somewhere so developed, it had it in the back of my mind, like, ‘Wow water isn’t something that should be taken for granted and it isn’t just this unlimited resource.”
She said she studied environmental science and her professor mentioned the wars of the future would be fought over water, and in some countries that’s already happening. “That was like the one sentence I couldn’t unlearn, that I couldn’t stop thinking about,” Spotz told Rogan. “And it just hit me at the core.”
She said, “I don’t know what cause could have as big of an impact as water. What can you live without. You can’t even survive three days without water. And just thinking about health. Half of the hospital beds are filled because of unsafe drinking water. It just boils my blood thinking about how wrong it is. And when you see how wrong it is, I feel like of course I would want to support that and do something.”