Hank Wise Dunkin' Donuts Along The California Coast

Hank Wise Dunkin’ Donuts Along The California Coast

Hank Wise, the King of the Catalina Channel together with Jesus Samuel Neri Gutierrez, put himself through a tough ocean workout a few weeks ago.

Wise started at the Montage Beach Resort in Dana Point, near the southern edge of Laguna Beach in Southern California, and swam northwards to the Newport Coast.  He ultimately swam for 5 hours and 2 minutes along the Laguna Beach coastline.  He needed to train and coordinating escort paddlers who are willing to give up five hours are tough to come by, so he swam along the shore without an escort kayaker and paddler.  His rough and ready training plan was to head 5 miles north, get a feed, and then flip it around and make it back to his starting spot.  Ten mile training swim – a good training day.  If he bonked, his plan was to walk Pacific Coast Highway southbound.
He asked one of his friends to hide a water bottle and a Clif Bar at a point approximately 5 miles from his start.  Up until then, he was not planning to stop, stretch, or feed.  The conditions were suboptimal with lots of heavy surface chop that were generated by non-stop winds.
He finally reached the water-and-energy bar pack rendezvous. He found his stash hidden under a set of stairs that reached down to the sand.  His mouth was parched and his energy levels were low, as he had battled in the Pacific Ocean for over three hours.
Wise knew he was in a predicament.  The rendezvous point was theoretically his halfway point, although he figured his return trip back to the start would be easy than the swim to the halfway point due to the conditions.
But Wise was still 5 miles from his car, towel, and rest. 
Upon guzzling the bottle of Carbo Pro and mowing down the Clif Bar, he was still famished – hungry and thirsty.  The feed was insufficient.  He needed more fuel.  He had to find a solution. He filled up his water bottle two more times from a water fountain as plain water was better than nothing.  The PCH walk of shame loomed in the background of his mind, but he knew he had the spirit and the enthusiasm to carry on. He just needed more fuel.  Pacing like a hungry animal, but trying to maintain composure, he looked for any random bits of food. 
With beachgoers scattered along the shore, Wise politely started to ask people if they had any food or drink to share.  One kind family had an apple that Wise quickly consumed.  Another woman was carrying a pink box of donuts back up the steps from the beach, she was done for the day, but her donuts were not.  Wise asked if she would be willing to share, given that he had at least another two hours to swim, and possibly, three more hours.
The mother wanted to save the sprinkles donut for her children, but she offered Wise a vegan cake donut that “was the best-tasting donut of my life” as he later recalled.
With an apple and a donut given by kind-hearted beachgoers, Wise was geared up, caloried up, and ready to swim back to the start.  
Two hours and 20 minutes later, Wise reached his original starting point and called it a day.  Another training brick in the wall, as he readied himself for his eighth and record-setting 32.3 km Catalina Channel crossing.

For more information on swimming across the Catalina Channel, visit swimcatalina.org. View the Catalina Channel Swimming Federation on WOWSA.

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Steven Munatones