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Grit.org Podcast - Episode 5: Hupp Huppman & Paul Lore



Colby Harris: Welcome back to The Grit. org podcast. My name is Colby Harris, alongside me as always is Brian Harbin and we're here with today's guest Paul Lore and Hupp Huttmann. Guys, thank you so much for joining us today.

Paul Lore: Thanks for having us.

Hupp Huppmann: Yeah, it's an absolute pleasure to be here.

Colby Harris: Oh, it's a pleasure to have you on. So, recently, Paul, a Marine Corps veteran and Hub Navy veteran did the unimaginable in a pursuit to help fellow veterans across the country. Alongside two other veterans, Billy Semino and Cameron Hansen. These four men rode the Atlantic Ocean clocking over three thousand nautical miles in 51 days, 11 hours, and 41 minutes from LA Gomera, Spain to Antigua, and the British Virgin Islands.

Now, let me add these guys were not paddling 3000 miles for cracks and giggles. The far from home team's mission is to raise money to help vets struggling with PTSD, identity issues, housing accessibility, and cognitive disorders with Canines for Warriors being their go-to foundation. Today, they have raised over $900,000. Their mission started in 2019 with the vision and these four men all from small town Emilia Island, came to go to commit and do the unthinkable. Starting December 12th, 2021 and ending February 1st, 2022, the 51 days on the wire took years of preparation and purpose. We have Paul and Hubb here today to share more about their role, the mission and the grit it took to bring it all together.

So, to get started just a small background these guys as mentioned both are veterans of the respected branch and now current residents of Fernandina Beach on Amelia Island. As retired veterans, they both love their small island the community they have there. One thing you'll come to find about them both is whether they're doing photograph, surfing, playing music, or rowing an entire ocean. These guys always seem to have a smile on their face which really makes me come to enjoy their presence the most. So, without further ado, Paul, starting off with you, it was your idea initially, you were the skipper of the boat. You managed a lot of fundraising and logistics throughout the course of the mission. Can you dive into us? What sparked to this idea? Where did it all really start for you to pursue this mission to row the ocean?

Paul Lore: So first, thanks for inviting us out here and Brian it really is, it's a just a neat opportunity to meet your audience I know Hupp and I really are really excited. So, the idea just didn't just start from me as everything is always a collective. When I first met Billy Semino, we all found out through his family that they were trying to raise money for another veteran team who's actually going to go out and take the ocean again this year in 2022, they're called Fight or Die. So, they were raising money for them and then Billy was just talking to me one night in the bar we were sitting there like, how can we do, how can we raise some money for them. So, we came up with this paddle event and when them do the paddle event we got to meet the team. We got to meet one of the team members Fight or Die. Then after that we got to meet another team member when we went out and did a visit with them when we were thinking about entertaining the ocean. So, that's where the Genesis was from, that's where I kind of just started from. Where I kind of came in to the picture was really, I just applied for their team to row out in the ocean. Then Colby being a surfer, I had a trip scheduled for Indonesia so I wasn't losing that. I was going on that, that was a trip that's been planned for years. So, then we just came up and said, well, hey why don't we row. Then the four of us knew each other just kind of in social settings and we became friends and then we became closer friends. Then we just said, hey, we had this beautiful community that we live in how about us we do it. We can row the ocean. So, that's where it just all kind of started from.

Colby Harris: That's awesome and on that note, as you said, obviously, you would now need a team. You thankfully had these three other great gentlemen around you. So, Hupp, over to you. How did you get roped in and what were your initial thoughts on making the trip?

Hupp Huppmann: Yeah, it was really interesting because when the guy from the other team came down. You had the shirt on that it said any idiot can row an ocean. Any idiot can row a boat. It takes a real idiot to row an ocean and it was intriguing that meeting the man and at the time we're on the other side of it now but at the time it was so intriguing to me. I'd never heard of this where you could physically make your way across the ocean and after a career in the Navy I was really hooked. Like, I thought this is sounds impossible. So, when the four friends came together to form a team it was an easy decision for me. Because we were already so close, working on the other project together with the paddle. It just seem like let's that synergy and directed towards a bigger cause and see what happens, because we had raised a decent amount of money for that. That other team, I don't recall the number 10, 12,000 somewhere in there.

Paul Lore: It's a little over 10,000.

Hupp Huppmann: So, we thought, maybe we could go for a bigger vision and see what happens with this. So, and I love the guys so it was really easy once you're, tied into the brotherhood and the fellowship of veteran status together. Let's go. Let's try this.

Paul Lore: Yeah, if you can paint the picture a little bit, if you could just think about visualize four guys sitting around a with just a pad and an idea and really what was the bond or the glue if you want to use that as like a physical example it really was just like what Hubb was saying. We actually physically even said that that we wouldn't think of any other four guys that we would row across the ocean with and try this. So, we were all really happy and content there and it's amazing how secure that can make you feel and we ended that way. That's the really even neater part about it.

Brian Harbin: And why rowing? I mean had any of you guys done long distance rowing before or?

Hupp Huppmann: Absolutely not. Paul's a water enthusiast as I'm sure you guys know from previous discussions. I'd love the water. I worked as a kayak guide and paddled. We've done a couple of trips around the island just in kayaks. So, we got a little ocean time on a backwater kayak and I thought, this is pretty intriguing to take it further out and see what's possible. So, the first step was to reach out to somebody who could teach us to row literally like we've never done this. So, one of our Cameron the Air Force veterans is a JU Alumni and he took the lead and contacted the row coach down there and I really kind of love this story too. So, he reaches out, ‘hey, my name is Cameron, I know you don't know me. I'm a JU graduate. I'm one of four veterans and we're looking for a row coach to do this charity event and the coach is like alright that sounds doable. I can help you with that row thing. So, by the way, we're going to row across the Atlantic Ocean.’ There's that that's silence right like, but then Jason was completely on board took us in and trained us up and I think provided is really a great foundation to get it done. So, yeah, no experience, it's no experience necessary on the resume just a big heart, right. You got to have some heart and fortitude

Paul Lore: Yeah, if your viewers and listen again want to just kind of visualize something man it's like being like or I'm showing my age. But Apple, like you're in a garage and you really just have a concept right, and that's really what we had. We just had a concept and we reached out to somebody I'm like, hey man, we want to do this and they're like yeah, we're on board. You got all these people that don't even know each other, but they're immediately saying yes. So, that's it's an amazing amount of really great energy to go forward.

Colby Harris: Definitely. And I see passion is obviously the greatest fuel and I can already tell both of you have a lot of passion about the project as well as just really assisting others and especially I think the camaraderie of it is really amazing too. So, Paul for you again as mentioned the team is now raised over $915,000. So, we start originally raising about 10,000 for another team and you guys are now almost at a million dollars for your team personally. Can you share some insight into the process and challenges if any or just overall feedback that you guys saw as you start raising money and promoting the mission and trying to just talk to more people that really make this thing possible?

Paul Lore: Yeah, so it was a long journey and I'll go back and do a little talk story about, because I go back to when Hupp and I, and I just say, Hupp and I. So, it is a four-man team but we did break down like division of labor who would what you know, just so we can stay focused because you'll see at the very end. It's a huge tasking to get into ocean rowing. It's totally a different sport. There's a lot of logistics to it, there’s a lot of project management aspects to it. But Hupp and I in the beginning put together complete sponsorship package and we really just went out to the row community to see what was out there. We didn't plagiarize but we just kind of did a lot of research and reading and then you kind of just take what you get there and you make, you create your own show.

So, Hupp and I got with a bunch of other folks and we put together this we thought was really a cool sponsorship package. And at that time too, Hupp and I and both I'm sure Cam and Billy you know had in their minds when we put this together like, wow. Everybody's going to come busting out of the wall. Red Bull, Nike, all this is going to start happening, Adidas. We're going to get all these major sponsors. We noticed that once we launched and we launched really right when COVID was kind of just starting to happen. I remember the story so distinctly because I was Vietnam and Hup and I actually did a FaceTime call to kind of go over the package and say, hey, you know what is it looking good can we launch it right in March, and we were like yeah, we're good.

So, when I came back, we launched it and not even I think maybe what Hupp 10 days later COVID hit and that really just on top of us learning how to grab major big sponsors. Now all of a sudden, you're in one of the biggest pandemics of your lifetime and everything is shutting down, businesses are shutting down. So, the long story is and Hupp and I got together and we kind of just did like a reset like what are we going to do really now. We actually took a hiatus. We said, we're just going to stop, we're not going to talk to any businesses. We're going to let families and everybody adjust and really just take care of themselves, take care of their own right now because none of us knew really what the landscape was like. So, but for us that really kind of put us on the back burner because to do ocean rowing you need to buy an ocean rowboat which none of us had. So, it took a lot of restructuring. You want to add a little?

Hupp Huppmann: No, I agree I was reading ahead a little bit. It's leading into the paddle was there a second guess or a setback. The first one out of the gate was COVID, because it's an expensive undertaking to get started. You can certainly raise enough to pay that back and come out even which we've been fortunate to do. But what do you do? I think that we were fortunate in that we because of the step back and because we were so ingrained in our own community, we thought let's look locally. Let's step back and stay within our own circle of influence and see what's there and that actually kept everything breathing was to go smaller to stay home and work with our own community. That's really what started driving everything. I think we found that accidentally. I mean it was just a great pivot to say, there's no money out there right now that everything's down. But locally, cookie sales and bake sales and raffles. I guess it's been around so long because that stuff actually works once you pull your own community in.

Paul Lore: And how could I talk about. If we had to do it over again, people always ask us this question. Would you want to do it in an environment without COVID? And obviously COVID we know that has and we won't. but just even if it was something else, we probably wouldn't go back and look for big sponsors because the community is really what reshaped our journey into something really amazing to know that you can do an extraordinary gesture and have love and folks behind you really in the hardest of times and still push forward. I think it kind of goes towards your when we're going through your Creed, your Grit Creed right there's one in there that talks about I'm going to try and try again right and that's basically really what we did. You have to reset. You have to figure out, okay, this is the obstacle that's in front of us and are we going to make the best of it or we just going to sit down and give up for and then come back or we just going to try to reshape ourselves? We chose to really reshape our ourselves and I think that's an important point for your listeners.

Colby Harris: Yeah, I think everyone really had to do a lot of strategizing and going back to the drawing board just as you guys said you did and going from that perspective of kind of at this point, you want to back and change anything else about it, which I think is really important. So, thinking into the physical matter and the mental matter of how you actually did the trip. I think that's a big point of you actually had to row 3000 miles. We can talk about the funds. We can talk about getting the boat getting there, but then you actually had to row 3000 miles. So, for you both how did you guys try to prepare mentally and physically for 51 days on the water just with three of your, what I would now call some of your closest friends of course? How did that whole just process go down leading up to the row?

Hupp Huppmann: Yeah, sure. So, really just planning. Again, we're four guys from 50 to 60ish. So, we were all physically active. I think that fortunately, we were all either playing ball. Paul's always surfing on the water. Billy's a triathlete. He runs all the time and then Cam was a kind of a former pro football player, semi-pro football player. So, he's in great shape too. Had a great foundation and our physical program really was more about what's it going to take to pursue that two-hour shift of on and off, on and off every two hours. So, it wasn't specifically geared more than, it was really about teamwork too about getting together, having a program that strengthened us up, created some endurance. And then it focused on different areas between some cardio, some strength training, little bit of bulking, being able to produce a good pull. That was really key I think is being able to make the boat move as an individual once you put everybody together that you're getting good traction on there.

So, we teamed up with CrossFit 32034 up on Amelia Island. We had two trainers that would meet with us every Tuesday morning at 06:00. Put us through their grind to get a strength training and a little bit of bulking and it worked for us. It wasn't, I don't think it was a crazy physical program. A lot of this was on your own. You had to trust your teammate that they were going to put in that time outside of just that basic strength training to live on the erg.

Colby Harris: Yeah, I was going to say for you Paul I know there was a mental training that went into a lot of preparation in that regard too. So, how did you guys try to you know fully prepare for the 51 days of almost isolation on the water?

Paul Lore: So yeah, the mental if you talk to any ocean row, they'll tell you that the mental aspect of the row is about 80% and the physical part is about 20%. I really helped me think.

Colby Harris: Absolutely.

Paul Lore: Yeah, they're definitely right on. So, we prepared, we ended up through an in-kind donation. Don Grant who's a hypnotist and a mental performance coach. She stepped in and provided us an in-kind donation for the whole entire team. I know Hupp and I probably out of the four of us really took on to it the most. She would do questions about like what were our fears, what were our concerns? Sometimes not even fears but just what were our concerns. I know Hupp and I flushed out. For me, it was being claustrophobic. I was kind of worried about for some reason I just start getting in small spaces and that little cabin. If you ever been in our boat, it's like Hup and I ended up renaming it, the dumpster. That's like a little four by four space and then you have to put your legs underneath an area that maybe you might have got, maybe five inches of clearance once your legs are underneath there. So, she helped us get through that by making audio tapes having discussions, group discussions on how we're overcoming the obstacles.

Then Hupp and I, give us a lot of credit when we were training. We put a lot of time into being in that cabin. Any opportunity that we had that we both had to be in there, we took that as a training opportunity. Like I'll give you an example. We got into some really cold weather in our first training run when we were going up towards Saint Simon's. So, we were kind of almost in the onset of hypothermia and we really needed to pull over because we didn't have the appropriate clothing. It just really got down in the 30s that night. So, we found a dock and we pulled over and again here's that thing about trying again, right. We didn't look at it as like we're failing and we needed to stop and we needed to get on to a dock. We looked at it, okay, now we're going to get on to the dock, let's just hold here and we get in the cabin and we slept the night together in a really small space. Because you've got to learn that.

If we were out in the ocean and we were in major seas like 40 50-foot seas and we all had to get in there. You're going to have to learn how to live in there. So that was a way of getting through it just to try to train in the actual moment. And Dawn, I know you captured us really well Hub. Tell them about like how Dawn wants you to look at a at a situation not at as bad as that's an opportunity.

Hupp Huppmann: Yeah, she comes in from a different angle. I'll give you an example of seasickness, is everybody's first concern. So, Dawn created an audio called Motion Wellness, right. So, it really gets in your head that it's okay to have this physical thing happening to you and then I wish I could tell you the secret of the tape. Like I can tell you here's how it works. But unfortunately, it put you under within minutes. So, I don't know the whole audio stream of what she actually said. But when I woke up the next morning I felt better or. So, we're all seasick a day out we're heading out we're all coming to with the inner ear and whatever she whispered in my inner ear worked. When I woke up the next day, I was already ready to eat. So, there's tools out there that you may not know about or even trust, but sometimes you got to test them out. Something like this, you could be skeptical and say, well, mental training. But it really worked for me. It made a world of difference in that first few days. Some teams they can't perform because of the first week. They're out of it, but we were all through that quickly.

Paul Lore: Yeah, there was just a team that was on the water that had to go make a diversion to land because one of the rowers got seasick.

Hupp Huppmann: And now they've stopped.

Paul Lore: And they've stopped.

Hupp Huppmann: They’re stopped because of the hurricane season.

Paul Lore: And Hupp brings out a really great point too for your listeners because this is kind of ties into veteran suicide. Folks that are in the military, really any high-performance sports. Sometimes we're taught that, it's not okay to underperform, but you're going to have your moments at times. You're going to be a situation where something's not comfortable for you and it's okay to say that. You're not okay and that's what Dawn kind of just made us work through that. The mindfulness and your awareness and your acuity to what is not working for you will actually sometimes can make you perform better, right. Because if you recognize it and then you engage the things that will make you overcome that, you will overcome that. That I thought was really significant that Dawn, brought out.

We actually try to bring that message now that it's okay to say that you're not okay about something. Like for me, everybody out there in the audience could sit there and go, oh he's a marine and he's claustrophobic. I'm okay with that, right. Because I put myself into that situation to train to overcome that. So, the only way that I can overcome something is if I recognize it and try to train through it, right. It's the same thing with weights. If I want to get stronger, I'm going to keep training right, in a certain way. So, if I'm claustrophobic, I'm going to try to train myself out of that.

Brian Harbin: Well, and the biggest thing too and whether you're rowing across the ocean or in any type of sport or anything in life really, a lot of times it's you versus you, right. And even though you're rowing with a team, it's like so much of like overcoming life and adversity is dealing with that voice in your head. That voice telling you, oh you're scared of these little spaces. Such a big part of overcoming that and dealing with it is reframing how you look at it and looking it from a different perspective and instead of looking at as a weakness, you now turn into strength and something that's going to help you. And once you overcome that, the confidence you get from it kind of starts this momentum. So, it's really neat that here you guys like you said in your 50s and 60s have overcome something that previously you thought was holding you back, but now has given you guys a lot of momentum and confidence moving forward. I'm sure it's probably going to inspire a lot of people too.

Kind of speaking of overcoming adversity, so I know there was a bit of a hiccup when you guys were in Spain trying to get the boat through custom. So, tell us and the name of your boat is Courageous.

Paul Lore: Courageous.

Brian Harbin: So, tell us a little about that story in Spain?

Paul Lore: Yeah, okay I'll take that one. So, let's set the setting first. So, Hubb and us the whole team with a couple of other teams that were from the United States we're sitting at a small little and we're getting ready to have lunch. We've ordered. We're all kind of sitting there joking around and I always kind of put this like it's like in a movie that you see. Like if you see somebody that's in government, high-level government and all of a sudden, everybody in the room is looking at their phones because they're all getting kind of the same message. That's what was happening at our table, but I didn't recognize it yet at the moment. So, my phone goes off and I usually just don't always jump to the phone but we knew that we were waiting for the boat, the clear through custom.

So, that was looking at it a lot. So, here goes this message and all of a sudden, I open up my email and the very first lines and it is the first line was we've got a really big problem. So, now your heart starts pumping because you're like, oh my Gosh, your 6,000 miles away or how many miles away we are right now and we don't have a boat and you see this and you know where it's coming from. It's coming from the customs broker and then I'm reading it more and it had some dollar amount there like over $80,000. You must come up with if you want to get your boat back. And I'm like, okay wow, what is happening, why am I having to pay more than I paid for the boat. So, that was immediately that was going in me. So, I and that would help me kind of just discounted a little bit because I was like alright that really ain't going to happen. You could just hold on to the boat and we'll find another boat, right, try-try again. But yeah, it really kind of just stumped us and then finding out that the rest of my mates from the United States were also getting the same email.

What ended up happening was in short is somewhere along the message in customs they got that the boat was coming to Spain and was going to stay in Spain and is going to be sold in Spain. So, there were a lot of duty and excess taxes that were going to be owed on the boat. But as time goes on, we saw that message kind of dwindled down in price and it was real funny. But the main message out of that whole scenario was we really just stayed the course as a team and we didn't get excited about the problem. We really tried to work the problem. And again, I could tie it to one of your lines in your Grid Creed right is, “Am I a problem solver”. That's what we all were, we were problem solvers. Then you have to find folks that can also help you because sometimes you just can't solve everything and, in that context, having to work through the Spanish government speaking Spanish and all that. We really went towards Atlanta campaigns who is hired to run this whole Talisker Race and really, they were the agents of change that we immediately shifted to and started communicating through to out.

There's got to be a way to solve this problem. Because there's 35 other boats right now sitting in the boat parking lot, that are being worked on. So, and we're part of that and why are those 35 boats sitting there and ours are in customs and that's really the way we looked at it so.

Colby Harris: It seems it's really an almost uncontrollable situation even there. And I think that's something you guys sounds like you did really well about throughout this whole process was just focus on the controllables. If it's out of your hands, it's out of your hands. It's something we can't change, then just as you said just going to keep moving forward, being a problem solver not a problem spotter. So, it's really incredible to know that you guys just really stuck to it and continue to set it up and sure enough just days later you guys were good to go it was time to do the thing after years of preparation. So, Hub for you, I have to ask now as you're heading out leaving the port, you get that last glimpse of land. What's that experience like when you finally started to make trip and you were leaving land for what was going to be at least probably two months a little under 2 months.

Hupp Huppmann: Right. Yeah, it was really special honestly once we got out of the harbor when you clear LA Gamora and you make that trek to the southwest… pardon me. There's nothing more to see it's really, you're out, you look in front of you and you see this expansive ocean and that's all you're going to see for the next at least month and a half. And then the sea starts to change as you pull away from land what you've trained in and you knew and what was comfortable quickly becomes uncomfortable. The movement of the boat changed. The way it reacted to the waves. How you moved around the boat while guys were now full time on and off. No breaks. No, let's stop and talk about this. You were in it and so you had to learn this new ballet. You had to learn the new way to get around. You remembered oh, hey, I haven't eaten today. You really would get caught in a shift of I got to produce power and move the boat forward but then you'd say I haven't fed my body. Yeah, and that's, so we it for a few days, ones and twos but now it's going to be weeks, weeks.

So, we woke up the second morning and we saw not another person. So, the first day you could see boats coming by the store region trio of gals asked us on the right, they were all offshore rowers already. So, they blew by us and that's the last time we saw people. When we woke up the next morning, we didn't even see boats. So, the reality of it sits in really quickly. When you once you're and the little mountain of Tenerife disappeared behind us day three, you realize there's going to be nothing between there and Antigua.

Colby Harris: What was that like for you Paul just to, your first few days out there even dealing with motion sickness I know everyone kind of had to deal with a little bit for the first few days. What really occurred in those first few days as you adjusted and any abnormalities or things that occurred as you got used to being on the boat?

Paul Lore: Yeah, if you go back to my pictures, I actually took my fence and went in the water one day and went right up on the buoy that was out of the channel and took a photo of the ocean, because Hupp captured it so ultimately. I mean it's really not much more to say on that when you look out in the vast sea and this is you're not going to see anything for X amount of days. It's pretty eye opening. It wakes you up really quick. You pretty much left everything behind for a cause and it was, but like Hubb said, you immediately well engage into all the things that you've learned during your training. That you quickly have to start adjusting to or otherwise you're not going to survive that period and it really is really that raw. I mean our life was about rowing, sleeping, eating and doing boat chores. That was it. Every day that was the focus.

And then the grounding factor which I don't want anybody to miss out of here is our why. Why did four guys get in a boat, leave all their possessions behind, leave all their friends and family behind. Why did they do that? And we did that to raise awareness that veteran suicide is a huge problem in the United States and we are losing our sons and our daughters, our aunts, our uncles, our nieces, nephews, whoever that connection is in your family. So, that why always got us back to very quickly I got to eat, I be in the cap and I got to sleep, I got to be there for my mates, I got to rest up. So, when it's my turn to row, I'm going to row and then whatever our boat duties were. That was our why, that was our fuel.

Brian Harbin: Yeah, well it's interesting too. It's talk about fight or flight when you're in a situation like that there's no flight, right. You have to fight you have and it's similar for people going through a mental things or people at war. So, you have to focus on what you can control and what you guys could control was your schedule really. So, kind of paint the picture as far as like just a day in the life. I know you guys had a very well thought through schedule in terms of just boat maintenance ins and outs of operating, eating, rowing. So, tell us a little bit more about a day in the life.

Hupp Huppmann: Yeah. So, the trying to get your body to shift into a cycle of the two on and two off as we call it. Two men rowing, two men off every 2 hours, 24 hours a day. It takes your body a few days to come to terms with that sleep cycle or lack of, I like to call it the lack of sleep cycle and the movement at the same time. Anecdotally it was funny we would at one point lay down to take that precious hour and a half. Paul has the record, 10 minutes later he is up and opens the door and says alright I'm ready to relieve you. We had this turnover formal turnover; we did each time. He's like, I'm ready to relieve you. Paul, it's been 10 minutes, but your body doesn't know that. You literally lay down; your brain clicks while you're out and then you come back up and you think it's time to go back out there.

So, it took a bit of time a week or two to really get into some abnormal patterns that you've never experienced before. But you do learn through persistence that your body will adapt you're living in the ocean and being exposed on that boat your skin started to adapt to the environment. We took on this layer of stuff on our skin not just salt but you started to become kind of one with the environment. So, to mentally push through you can feel those changes where if I don't like to use the word comfortable, because I don't think I ever felt comfortable. But where you started to realize you became part of the bigger experience around you. That was life changing. That moment where you realized your body will adapt to a new rhythm, your cycles will become normal in time and that you'll become kind of one with what's going on.

Colby Harris: Yeah, I find the adaptation factor very interesting because the human body is really amazing in the sense of, we don't necessarily push it to its capabilities anymore the way we used to. As I mean shower once a day, multiple times a day, you get comfort factors indoors, all these different things. So, you don't really get to be in that environment. It's really cool to hear that you guys’ experience that and you can even talk about the changes in your skin. So, one question I do have to ask is you guys did in fact face some pre-treacherous conditions. I know for a few days, you guys were seeing 30, 40+ foot swells. For both of you unless there's a shared moment if one of you want to take it, what was the scariest moment or a time where Things really got a little nerve wracking as to the finish line might seem a little farther than you guys had originally anticipated.

Paul Lore: Yeah, I mean on the trip I can really honestly and it's not being narcissistic on this or anything. But there wasn't really a point of like scared or failure on that, because we just knew we're going to do whatever we had to do in whatever way it turned out. We know that we gave our best on that. So, probably if I had to capture anything it's probably being at night you know being in like 30+ foot swells, that definitely especially with minimal light. You just don't, the waves coming from you, where they're coming from. We were in conditions where we had a lot of wave action on our beam of our boat hitting us on the side of the boat more than in the stern. So, that was probably always nerve wracking, because there's that chance, we never rolled but there's always that chance that you can roll.

The boat was made extremely well from a company out of Rannoch in England that's where we purchased the boat from. It's an R45 and we were amazed on really how she performed out in the ocean. Because you always hear stories and you watch videos and but they're normally an anomaly than it is really the everyday norm.

Colby Harris: Well, that was going to be my next question just real quick is did it had rolling capabilities? If you guys were to turn, what was the protocol for something like that.

Paul Lore: Yeah, the boat would roll. You would hold on and you're tethered in.

Hupp Huppmann: It's a 6 second ride, right. We're tethered in with mountaineering harnesses around our waist and then two points on the boat all times when you're outside of the cabin. So, the boat would go over you would with it and you'd come back up in 6 seconds. Yeah. As long as the doors were shut which is. So, every time you're out of the door you shut the door behind you. You're in and out as quick as possible. Paul and I had a great video on that how to make a crew change in in three seconds.

Paul Lore: The compartments needed to be sealed. If you compromise the compartments then the bow performance is going compromise.

Colby Harris: Yeah. That's why I was just trying to imagine there and paint the picture a little bit of what would occur in a situation like that. Because I'm sure, you guys might be able to say even if there were any bow that happened to turn throughout the trip. I'm sure that might.

Hupp Huppmann: I heard there was a duo that they ended up setting a world record so I don't think the fact that they capsize slowed them down. A team named Wild Waves. These girls were full of energy. They had a capsize towards the end but they flipped right back up and just kept going. I personally think it would have been a little chaotic that there's so much going on deck and pieces and parts of what's everything's tethered to the boat. But to flip over and then you you're outside the boat technically when your still attached, but you're outside you got to get everybody back in. There’re injuries that's where you really could probably get hurt. There was a gentleman that started who fell and broke his elbow when the race started and he unfortunately was only 40 miles out. But they were able to get him in his boat back in. Yeah, that's where the injury can happen and that chaotic happens, right.

Colby Harris: That's what I was going to say a lot can happen I feel like just in that brief 6 seconds, even a lot can happen in 6 seconds.

Paul Lore: Yeah, you can kind of do it almost like surfing. I mean you get caught underneath the wave, you got your leash to your board and you've got those moments where really if you just choose your mind again train your mind to relax and trust that the boat's going to roll back over, you'll just snap back with the boat. But like Hupp said probably the bigger part of it is really not the rolling, it's all the thrashing and stuff that went on. Because if you don't mind just, we actually almost rolled when we were training. We were coming in just south of the Tybee inlet over by Georgia we were coming in the inlet about 1 o'clock in the morning we got caught on a shawl. And we were really at a 90-degree angle on the boat we ended up snapping two wars. So, you've got all that weight that's on that boat. So, it's really what's flying around is probably the most dangerous than just actually being underwater and snapping back just hold your breath.

Colby Harris: Yes, so as for the physical exhaustion of doing the paddle like you said two hours on, two hours off paddling hours on in every day, minimal sleep. I find it interesting too. There's various research done on ways to sleep and I've actually met people before they do 4-hour intervals. So, it's kind of interesting to hear about your two hours because essentially you guys did as you said just. But covering roughly 70 miles a day, no real on land training could have prepared you guys for what you were in for. Was there ever a time that your bodies did start to feel as if they were shutting down or it really just became your physical health kind of started to become a problem or was that something you guys just overcame?

Paul Lore: Yeah. I think we just rolled into the to the physical changes. We could feel it. There was a lady doing a study when we started. She measured our muscle mass in our calves, our thighs, and our pecs. She said, good luck guys. When you come back, most of these are going to be gone and we actually hadn't thought about that part. I mean, we knew we had to eat to sustain caloric intake, but actually you’re physically on game for 12 hours a day it starts to eat your own body. I don't think we actually had process that part until we got out on the boat and started to physically see each other just stripping away as you were going. But I never felt physically unable. I just felt like as long as I kept eating and kept nutrition in the body, the body would keep going. I suffer from some lower back stuff and joints and stuff. I never felt that out there. I just kept fueling the and just kept moving. I think if you keep moving and you push through it, that's where the success is that.

Like you said earlier you your body is capable of things that you don't realize. It's not just superhuman strength, it's about endurance is can be a low-level thing for a long period of time, right. As long as you make your knot, your one knot which is what a human can produce. You're being successful for the team and you just keep pulling.

Colby Harris: It sounds like it's very similar to like a runner's high. Once they get into that pace and they feel like quitting, once you that barrier there's really no other option than to just keep pushing. Almost just start to enjoy it start to kind of embrace the sucks so to say while you're on there.

Hupp Huppmann: One thing we also didn't we lost weight in our glutes and then your bones from your hips just started digging into those seats. We had double yoga mats and anything we can think of a sheep skin and then those bones, just bone on skin grinding. The last week and a half was just so uncomfortable. But you were so close that you just pushed through it. Pushed through the pains as they say.

Colby Harris: Is there anything you want to add on their Paul?

Paul Lore: We could just throw some stats on there, which I always find everybody likes to hear. So, I used mine. Um I started out when I was training at like 222. When I hit LA Gomera, got on the scale. I was 205 and then when I hit Antigua, I was 161 pounds.

Colby Harris: Oh wow.

Paul Lore: So yeah, and I haven't seen that weight since elementary school or like junior high school. So, yeah, you're wimbling away but like what Hub said though is really critical. You trained and we had our CrossFit training and we held true too about even stretching. We got word on the boat about doing calf raises. So, we were doing calf raises. We were doing yoga on the boat and I'll tell you what, man. People are right. It works. If you stick to the routines and like Hupp was saying, fuel your body no matter what it is that's going to make you eat and then do the stretching and keep your mind strong, it's amazing what the human body and human mind can really go through and I think we were a testament to that. I mean, I'm almost 60 years old. So, if I had to change one thing, I probably would have started bulking up a little bit earlier. I think I would have thrown on some more weight going out in the row. I would have tried to get myself back in the 220s, 230s for as much as I dwindled away.

Colby Harris: Yeah, really good.

Hupp Huppmann: We honestly adapted in that element too like I was really strict about eating my food. Just food became a thing for me and then Paul would say, I don't really like this. I'm like, I'll eat that. I kind of kept eating whatever I get my hands on and I still lost 28 pounds, but I made food like became a pleasure thing for me like that's all you got is this granola bar and some, yeah and be careful prunes. Don't eat prunes.

Paul Lore: Oh my gosh.

Hupp Huppmann: I got to be honest with you there.

Paul Lore: Your system flushed, myself some prunes.

Colby Harris: Oh wow

Hupp Huppmann: A bag of mix fruits at night and I ate whole bag and then the next day I got completely flushed.

Colby Harris: Wow.

Hupp Huppmann: Because they were mostly pruned to that bag of food.

Colby Harris: Long day for everyone else.

Paul Lore: So, my nickname was Gunny Goes a lot. And then I think Hupp got that one day. Man, he got a good dose of what it really means to be Gunny Goes a lot.

Colby Harris: So, I have to ask. Okay, so 51 days later you're physically half the man you used to be almost, right. Because you've lost all this body weight. Mentally you're tough as nails, but hanging on by a thread. But tell us about that feeling when you first see land and you guys are within striking distance of getting there. Tell us that emotional.

Hupp Huppmann: Yeah. You're so low to the water that you really can't see land until about 12 miles out. So, we were into the day, the final day before we saw land. So, day 51, we're heading in and about 12 miles out you just make out this faint outline. But you could actually and Cameron tells us. So, I'm going to share it with you. You could smell it before you could see it. Because of whatever is going on in the island and the wind, the breeze coming out, you could see and then you started to see the shade of green and you hadn't seen the color green in a month and a half. So, it becomes very stark contrast to the horizon and your brain starts to remember, oh that's what green looks like. Then, we had some difficult weather coming in on that last day.

So, we really were a little behind where we thought. We thought 5 PM, 6 PM but suddenly, it was 8, 9. It's dark now. The sun has gone down and so it disappeared on us again technically. We saw it, we knew where we were headed and then it became navigating lighted buoys because it got away from us. But man, that I can't tell you emotionally what's that spike felt like. But it was the biggest adrenaline slash joyfulness I've ever felt in my life was where today I'm going to set foot on land again and be back home with my family and all the things I missed and right there. So, that feeling is amazing. Yeah, I can't describe it.

Brian Harbin: You want to add on to that, Paul.

Paul Lore: Yeah, I mean no I just, yeah it is something you like to talk about each one of the rowers really do love to talk about. Because to be out there for 51 days and as much as we love each other, you're seeing four guys after a while I was like, hey you know. And to see the outline because we had to make a call, we had to make a 20-mile call to the campaign to the race officer. When we made that 20-mile call, we still couldn't see land. So, that was pretty weird. It's like and it's hard to explain to your listeners because we felt it but it's weird when you're haven't seen land but now, you're making this 20-mile call. You're only 20 miles away. We thought even when we were 100 miles away like, wow, we're really close. But it took forever just to get to that 20-mile mark and then we're making it and we're telling Ian who's the safety officer, really phenomenal man. We don't see the land yet, but then all of a sudden four miles later, now we're seeing the land and it was just really that accelerating just to us.

Again, I think the part of it is Brian you were starting to travel there is it's all about work, right. I mean here's four guys that didn't have a boat, didn't know how to row, didn't even have oars and now we just took however our route was we just took a boat under power of human spirit and physical strength along with nature. And we went off the coast of Africa and we are looking at our final, I won't even call it our final destination but a mark that was in our journey. If you put it in that kind of context, it's amazing and it was fueled by a community. Please don't ever miss that piece that the community that was there in Antigua and the community that was doing the watch parties on Amelia Island and even we started hearing even in all over the country. People that were doing our followers folks that were at home and having maybe 12 people in their living room watching it's it if I can.

Hupp Huppmann: Yeah, that's it.

Paul Lore: Thought I was going to go through the interview and not cry. But if you can go through something like that, I mean, I don't ever want to negate your family, your children are the best things that ever happened in your life. But I will say that just is right there at the edge, man because it was pretty magnificent to know that we accomplish something like that. That's the message we want to put out to our veteran community too that dreams and hopes and things that you fail at, don't stop and get to that Tomorrow. Because tomorrow might be different. Can have a lot of success, can have a lot of failure yeah too, but it also will change at some point.

Colby Harris: Yeah, and you really just kind of foreshadow what I wanted to talk about next. I mean after just an incredible feat of perseverance and courage, dedication, you guys completed the paddle. I love how you mentioned that when you landed in Antigua, it wasn't necessarily your final stopping point. It was your destination where you guys were trying to get to, but that wasn't where it all started or wasn't where it all stopped, pardon me. So, now looking back on trip as you just kind of touched on a lot of it and there, what is it meant to you both to complete the trip, raise awareness for veteran suicide and really just make the impact that you guys have made up to this point.

Paul Lore: Go damn.

Hupp Huppmann: Yeah, I think that the success of the whole mission and then bringing the community along with us made it something so much bigger than what we thought it was going to be. We had the physical journey, but our entire community made a difference. I think that's the most feedback I get from the community was thanks for taking us along. We're fortunate to send back some video and stuff along the way and so they all felt like they were part of what was going on without the being involved in the physical movement. So, I think the success lies in the people around you. I really think that even if you're going to set off and conquer a mountain as an individual that you're still going to need your community, your friends, and followers and the love and support, that's really where the success comes from. So, I think that that's important to remember when we do these extreme events or anything in the endurance category is surround yourself with great love and support and you're going to be successful. I'm going to leave it.

Paul Lore: Yeah, I mean, the part I love the most is, think about right now, 15 years, where you going to be? Because 15 years ago, I would have never imagined that I'm going to be sitting here in a podcast room, talking to you fine gentleman and along with my partner that I rode across an Atlantic Ocean with. I thought of that I think of that a lot at the most arbitrary spots. The other day I'm in the shower I'm just taking a shower and I'm thinking to myself, how did I meet Billy, Cam, and Hupp? And then last night I thought of it even more. I'm at dinner with a friend and they gave me a picture of the four of us with our hands together coming off the boat. I'm thinking to myself, where would I have ever imagined that that would have happened? And so, dreams come true. Yeah, I mean but I guess what I'm trying to say not very eloquently and crying through it is, you just never know where you're going to be 12 years from now. You just don't know, but the one thing that is going to deliver you to a spot to where it's going to be so magnificent it's just like what Hupp said. You're not going to do it by yourself, you got to do it with others.

Brian Harbin: Absolutely, and it's interesting I actually had seen that newspaper clipping this morning was looking at that of you guys getting off the boat, holding hands at it dark outside. Tell us now kind of where you're at in terms of total amount raise and what you guys are doing. Like you said I know a big part of this was and involving the community and raising that awareness to veteran suicide. What are you guys planning to do with that and what's kind of been the feedback that you've gotten so far in the veteran’s community?

Hupp Huppmann: Yeah, we're driving on I'm happy to say that originally, we envision that we'd get home and kind of tapered off within a 30-day period. But I think it still has synergy and it's still rolling. So, we're going to keep working campaign until we feel that we've actually run out of some the gas there. But people are still involved. Now we're going to make presentations about what we did and the journey and then people are continuing to present some thank you support on the on those events. And I think we just keep pushing Paul challenge the other day and I loved it because Paul's full of surprises. Paul put a challenge out there the other day said, hey, we're actually now only 200,000 short of a second kennel, which is made. So, I know we didn't talk mega kennel yet, but a big chunk of what we did went to build a facility that will train and house dogs right on the K9 for Warrior Campus.

So again, think back we were originally just going to train a few dogs four dogs 100,000 something like that, that was our vision. But in the end the mission and the community ended up building an entire mega kennel that will train 64 dogs a cycle. I believe it's twice a year. So, 150 dogs a year now are going to roll through the courageous kennel down on the K9s for Warriors campus and our community built that and so we're close to pushing on to try to build a one. Yup, we'll just keep focusing see how that goes.

Colby Harris: Yeah.

Hupp Huppmann: And then Paul has some other exciting news about somebody that came to us to use courageous for another purpose. What's going on?

Paul Lore: Yeah. So, yeah. The moment I got back, there's a young man named John Sour Junior. He's a special Olympian athlete. In the moment Hupp and I got back, this young man, he's blind but very passionate and now we're finding out yeah very passionate. And if you're listening John, yeah, we'll row any ocean with you he wanted to go to church like the next day we haven't even been back like not even 24 hours and so definitely he was like yeah, we'll meet up we'll go. Then after church you know he's like, oh, I want to meet up with you again because I want to talk to you about something and then it was really about, hey, I want to row an ocean. So, I'm looking at this man and I'm like wow I'm digging this let's talk with your dad. Let's fold your dad into the conversation. Because just like we were explaining before row an and Ocean is a very physical feat but it's also a logistics piece that's got to be put together very pretty methodically.

Anyway, but long story short, Hupp and I are now working with John Sawyer Junior and Senior the Double John's and we're going to do a little mini coastal road to raise awareness for Special Olympics Florida. The main theme on that too is about inclusion about having everybody included in an activity. Really no matter anybody's abilities that you can adjust. I think Hupp and I learned a big lesson when we went out the other day, we did our first actual on the water with courageous, with both Johns and Hupp and I to go out and see what it's like to have somebody that can see now function on an ocean row boat. And what we have to do and we're not going to look at his obstacles it's a matter of okay, what it has to just be done differently.

Hupp Huppmann: What are the abilities and how do you work around the abilities he has, how do you exploit those for the benefit of the bigger team. The controllables.

Colby Harris: Absolutely.

Hupp Huppmann: Yeah, the controllables again right, attacking the problem not looking at the limitations.

Paul Lore: It just look like veteran suicide Hupp and I really and the guy’s Billy and Cam we really took a passion about to rewrite the narrative about veteran suicide. We're not saying that we didn't like anything about like the number 22 or anything like that, but we always felt like well 22 told us what the problem was. But it really doesn't talk about how significant the problem is or the solutions. So, would be just like this with inclusion. We found now trying to write like little pieces for John to get awareness going. It's hard using that word disability because really people aren't, I mean disability to me I just don't like the word. They have certain abilities, right, their abilities are different than ours.

Brian Harbin: It's focusing on the negative version.

Paul Lore: Going back to the with Don Grant was kind of making us focus on is that, here is your situation and how are you going to make it work. So, John is blind yes but how are we going to still row in an ocean, how can we be successful. I'm sure we're going to in a short period go whoo-whoa, we didn't think of that.

Hupp Huppmann: There's things to learn again.

Paul Lore: Yeah, tell them about the like.

Hupp Huppmann: Yeah, so in normal ocean rowing when it's dark for us there is an issue where you can't see your paddles. So, we had some reflective tape close to our hands so we could see that and we knew the paddles are in the right direction. But in John's case, it's always dark he can never see the paddle. So, we're going to adapt some textured tape instead of reflective doesn't work for him but texture tape, so he can feel on his thumbs that the paddles are in the right direction and then he'll know he's always set and ready to go. So, in adapt and overcome.

Colby Harris: Yeah, I love, I know, I was so excited to see the announcement on Facebook that you guys were working with John just. Because I think what's most interesting about your stories now even when we talk about and I will note these two guys, I mean, you guys have become local celebrities if I will say. I mean, I love. It's pretty much everywhere we go even when we're working on playing the episode and me and Paul went and got coffee together. I don't think it took two seconds of Paul walking the door for 5 people to come up, say hey, how happy they are to see how happy that he's back. I love that you guys have never wanted the credibility. You've never wanted to be the names. Of course, it's always been the mission but now that it's leading you guys to helping someone on their path and helping them overcome something that they might not see as possible.

What started as a mission to raise awareness for veteran suicide has now led to you guys just inspiring people and showcasing what's really possible and that even comes down to John that comes down to myself. I think Brian, everybody that's had chance to hear your story is just really incredible. So, I've really appreciate hearing from your perspectives just the way you viewed the trip. Because again, I think I love the idea that it comes back around to the mission that you guys have stood for and the why behind all of it. So, I just have one more question for you guys as we ask all of our questions or all of our guests this question. But what part of the Grit cCeed resonates most with you guys. I know you've enjoyed a lot of parts of it. Obviously, it applies to a lot of the trip considering. What you guys really did arguably has taken the most grit of any guest we've had so far, not to discredit anybody else but I think they would say the same if they try to comprehend spending 51 days on the war? So, nonetheless, what part of the Grit Creed resonated most with you guys and why would that be?

Hupp Huppmann: Yeah, I like the part of the creed that brings in what's called the Serenity Prayer traditionally. It's a tool that I've used my whole life honestly and that it's just so powerful if you learn to mentally accept the things that you cannot change. Come to terms with that and then realize that a little bit of courage can help you change the that are in your own power, right. One step at a time and then the wisdom to know the difference, right. We can go back to the podcast and find every time the adversity came up, we'd pivot. That's the wisdom to know the difference, to take a different tact, to take a different avenue of success. So, to me, that's a really powerful couple lines there and I'm glad to see it in your creed. That's one you can carry your whole life.

Paul Lore: It's beautiful Hupp. I like it. For me, I picked I'll lead by example because the purpose is bigger than me. And the reason I picked that is because like folks will look at that and you have to actually think that you have to be perfect all the time. Like right when you hear that I'm going to lead by example. But there's going to be times where I know I'm probably leading and I'm not doing a really good example about it I might fail or something might come up but that is going to be okay. Because I'm going to recognize it and then I'm going to try again. Because I think we've talked about this that our society really lays heavy expectations. Your expectation doesn't mean that you have to be perfect all the time when you're trying to lead or you're trying to do something or you're trying to accomplish something.

But the example really will be, where's the fortitude come back at it again to learn what you did wrong. Like wow, that was not really a good way to lead, that was not a good decision. And to have that fortitude and to shed your ego and say, I'm going to come back at it again and I'm going to try again to do it. I think Hupp and Billy and Cam and I really set the example on that a lot in front of our community we really by doing this put ourselves really out there. I think Colby too the reason I think folks are feel at ease of coming up us is because we have done that.

Hupp Huppmann: Yeah. Humility.

Paul Lore: Humility.

Colby Harris: Humility is important. On the backside of this. And sometimes they say don't believe your own stuff. Well, the four of us got across together and so when you come home, humility is key. And I really just keep putting the credit on the community too because again, we did something physical. They did something incredible.

Paul Lore: Yeah.