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"That took my sport away at 31," she says. But Boyer never lost her love for the ocean. "I grew up on the water," she explains. In July 2009 while visiting Siesta Key, she saw some people stand-up paddleboarding. She and a friend rented some boards, and "that was history": As a self-described "competitive-sport-type chick," she was instantly hooked. By September 2010, she had landed her first sponsor.
These days, Boyer is tearing up the booming stand-up paddleboard scene in Florida and beyond: She now counts six sponsors and routinely performs well at paddleboard races in Florida and elsewhere across the country. In May, she finished sixth overall in the women's division at the Carolina Cup. In April, she took third overall women's at the Florida State Paddleboard Championships in Cocoa. Mobility hasn't completely returned to her left arm, but paddleboarding doesn't require the fine-motor skills needed for sailing. "It's been a blessing," she says. "It gave me my water sport back."
Ultra-Running and Ironman Triathlon
Things could have ended very badly in 2009, when Mandy Miller competed in the Marathon des Sables. It was her first go at a multiday ultramarathon in which racers are required to carry food and supplies for the duration of the race. The course consisted of 156 grueling miles through the Sahara Desert in southern Morocco. The six-day event went from hard as hell to goddamn near impossible when the region was hit with rains that Miller describes as "biblical flood" proportions, washing away course markers and resulting in a fourth-day stage that called for upward of 60 miles in one stretch.
With the course not "particularly well-marked," Miller found herself lost in the middle of the night with no water. In an attempt to get her bearings, she and some fellow racers scaled a sand dune. "What was sitting at the top? A donkey, but no person. It was very surreal," she laughs.
Like most near misses, the unnerving episode became humorous after crisis was averted. "That was kind of an adventure," says the lawyer, who also holds a PhD in psychology. She'll compete this September in the Grand to Grand Ultra, in which participants hoof it 160 miles between the Grand Canyon and Utah's Grand Staircase.
Miller was an athlete in high school but struggled with weight gain in the early '80s. She tackled the issue with diet and exercise (running, in particular) and soon developed a passion for long-distance athletic endeavors. Drawn to the "extreme endurance" aspect of her sport, Miller has competed in marathons for 27 years and frequently participates in Ironman Triathlons. "It's overwhelming, the size of something [like this], but I'm very much the Everyman," she says. "If you find a way to break it down, it's a process, like anything else."
Removed from ESPN's X-Games in 2005, rollerblading is the redheaded stepchild of the roller sports world. "There's nobody in it that's not really into it," Rob Squire says. "No one is carrying around skates as a fashion statement."
The rollerblading community is a tight-knit crew, giving Squire an international network of instant friends and couches to surf whenever he's struck with the urge to travel for skating, as he recently was for the Panhandle Pow-Wow contest in Jacksonville.
As one of the "older skaters" in the region, Squire is something of a champion of the cause. He's constantly exploring for new places to skate, and he hosts blading competitions at spots such as "505" Teen Center and Hobbit Skate Park in Delray Beach. He hopes to soon organize an event that brings together skateboarders and rollerbladers to bridge that gap between the two. As with any sport requiring gravity-defying slides, grinds, and jumps, it's all about the individual looking past the very real danger of injury and "conquering your big fear," he says.