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History of the World Record


The quest to set the Guinness World Record

People have been setting and breaking the record for fastest paddle down the Mississippi River since 1937. The record is recognized by the Guinness World Records under the title “Fastest Time to Row the Length of the Mississippi River by a Team”. Most of the teams that have set the world record have done so in a canoe, though per the guidelines issued by Guinness a scull, rowing boat, kayak or canoe would be permissible.
The first time the record was set was in 1937. Joe Tagg, Gerald Capers and Charles Saunders paddled from Itasca to New Orleans in 56 days.

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KJ Millhone and Steve Eckelkamp set the Mississippi canoe record in 1980.

In 1978, the record was set for a second time by a British Royal Air Force team at 42 days, 5 hours and some minutes(1). In 1980, KJ Millhone and Steve Eckelkamp set a new world record at 35 days, 11 hours and 27 minutes.

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The record is broken several times

The record was next set in 1984, by famed paddlers Verlen Kruger and Valerie Fons(2). Fons and Kruger’s time was 23 days and 10 hours(3). Bill Perdzock and Mike Schnitzka set it again in 1989 with a time of 23 days, 9 hours and 51 minutes(4). In 2001, Bob Bradford partnered with Verlen Krueger to try and reclaim the record, but various authorities forced them off the river on multiple occasions due to flooding(5), and they just missed setting a new record, paddling the river in 24 days. Bob Bradford made another attempt two years later, paddling with Clark Eid. Bob and Clark set the current world record on May 10-23, 2003: 18 days, 4 hours and 51 minutes(6). Bob and Clark documented their trip at the website: Mississippi River Ultra Marathons for Rett Syndrome (2001) and Rett Syndrome & Leukodystrophy (2003) - Home which continues to be a wealth of information about the history of the record, their attempt, and their efforts to raise awareness of Rett Syndrome and Leukosystrophy. Clark Eid was personally very helpful in sharing information about the history of the record and some of the information from this page is from his website and work. Clark has also been assisting the Tunica Riverpark and Museum in Tunica, MS in expanding their exhibit dedicated to human powered racing on the Mississippi River. His family donated the kayak Double Helixand associated gear from the 2001 Great Mississippi River Race for Rett Syndrome along with items from their 2003 Guinness World Record from the Mississippi River Race for Rett Syndrome and Leukodystrophy. They are also helping the museum by collecting historical information about firsts, attempts, Guinness Records, and notable runs on the Mississippi River. Both Bob and Clark have been kind and helpful with advice as we have trained and prepared for our attempt.

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An unsuccessful attempt in 2018

Since 2003 there have been at least three unsuccessful attempts to break the record. A team of four consisting of Tim Muhich, Colin Bright, Clint Adams and Boot Baweja made and attempt in 2014(7), and in 2017 they made another attempt with Dale Waldo replacing Boot Baweja(8). Kevin Eckelkamp (nephew of Steve Eckelkamp), Nate Lastinger and KJ Millhone made an unsuccessful attempt in 2018(9).

In 2020, Scott Miller along with KJ Millhone, Casey Millhone, and Oliver Simes put together a team to break the record. Because of the Covid pandemic and numerous stay at home orders, this attempt was scraped and Scott Miller put together the current team trying to break the record in 2021.

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