Mississippi River
Photo credit: Tracy Burroughs Brown

Speed Record: Team Completes Fastest Paddling Effort Down Mississippi River; 2nd Team in Hot Pursuit

A team of four, led by a father-daughter duo, claims to have broken the 18-year-old speed record for paddling the entire 2,350-mile length of the Mississippi River.

On Earth Day, April 22, KJ Millhone, along with his daughter Casey and friends Bobby Johnson and Rod Price, departed the headwaters of the Mississippi River in Itasca, Minn., with the goal of penning their names in the Guinness Book of World Records 18 days later.

Specifically, they had 18 days, 4 hours, and 51 minutes to secure a page in that vaunted book. That was the standing speed record for paddling the entire length of the Mighty Mississippi, a record set in 2003 by Bob Bradford and Clark Eid.

But this morning, at 4:53 a.m. Central time, the quartet set a new mark for Guinness to approve: 17 days, 20 hours. The team charted their progress on GPS and made the announcement today on their official website and on Instragram.

 

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If confirmed by Guinness, it will not only break the 18-year-old record, it will also mark the second time Millhone, 62, has managed a fastest time for the river. In 1980, he and Steve Eckelkamp set a then-record of 35 days and change.

Since then, the mark has been shaved and chopped by hours and days — and now, it appears even closer to the 2-week mark.

As luck would have it, however, another team of four, Mississippi Speed Record, is hot on MMZero’s heels. That team departed the headwaters about 2 weeks after MMZero and is on the river now. That team is 6 days into its attempt and has completed about 675 miles.

Mississippi Paddling Record

Guinness lists the record as, “The Fastest Time to Row the Length of the Mississippi River by a Team,” and that can be by canoe or kayak. MMZero used a four-person Wenonah Minnesota IV canoe to attempt this record.

Since the 2003 mark, at least three attempts have been made, unsuccessfully, including a 2018 attempt by Millhone and Kevin Eckelkamp (nephew of Millhone’s 1980 teammate, Steve).

While the record is a goal in itself, Millhone’s team (dubbed “MMZero,” for Mile Marker 0) partnered with the Mississippi River Network to raise money and awareness to protect wetlands, flood plains, and conservation practices along the River Basin. The Mississippi River Network is a coalition of 57 nonprofits and businesses located along the length of the Mississippi.

We congratulate team MMZero and look forward to a neck-and-neck finish from team Mississippi Speed Record — 2021 could be the fastest year ever for Old Man River.


Follow along with MMZero’s recap, and keep track on Mississippi Speed Record’s progress.

Adam Ruggiero
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Adam Ruggiero is an all-sport activity junkie - from biking, running, and (not enough) surfing, to ball sports, camping, and cattle farming. If it's outside, it's worth doing. Adam graduated from the University of Minnesota with a BA in journalism. Likes: unique beer, dogs, stories. Like nots: neckties, escalators, manicured lawns.