Vancouver Island's Dallas Allison is setting out to break the Guinness World Record for farthest distance travelled on flat water on a stand-up paddle board in 24 hours.
Allison had just moved to Vancouver Island and says that he was seeing paddle boards everywhere and feels like paddle boarding picked him, not the other way around.
He says he took up the activity at the beginning of the pandemic in search of a healthy coping mechanism, due to the isolation and stress that comes with being on the front lines of the pandemic. Allison is a paramedic and a member of the 4th Canadian Ranger Patrol group.
He says he came across the world record while searching for new paddle strokes and thought "I could do that." He also wanted to give back.
Allison is asking those who would like to support his endeavour to donate to Honour House Society, an organization that supports military members and first responders.
Before paddle boarding, Allison says he was turning to alcohol to cope. He says he often came home from work and had a drink, which turned into a few, and worried that he might soon have a problem.
"Initially I had a beer at the end of the day while I was paddle boarding and these days I have zero interest in alcohol, it just slowly replaced it.
"I still need my coping mechanisms, I need to paddle hard. But now I get to do it for an honourable cause and I get to help people who were actually helping those that are in need, which is amazing."
Allison says paddle boarding gives him a physical outlet to escape and do exactly what he tells his patients to do in dire moments — focus on breathing.
"There's this feeling you get as you hit the water and the crisp morning air hits you. And all you can hear is the water rushing by the paddle board and the absence of the noise of your paddle."
But paddling for hours is not easy. He says his hands are filled with blisters and calluses after six hours of gruelling paddling and he loses feeling in his feet before they eventually feel like bricks.
"We're still getting all of those things ironed out to the very last details and I'll be working on it right up to the very end. The learning definitely has not ended," he said.
It is the mental toughness paddling for 24 hours will bring that is the real test, says Allison.
"There's that mental challenge that is even more amazing. I think that's where the coping skills really come full circle."
The current record is held by Bart de Zwart who paddled 193.8 kilometres in 24 hours in May of 2017 in Switzerland. Allison is aiming for 210 kilometres.
Allison's attempt will take place at Mohun Lake, north of Campbell River at the Pacific Yew recreation centre starting at 2 p.m. Tuesday.