2003 World Record Set:
18 days, 4 hours, 51 minutes!

The Mississippi River Challenge for
Rett Syndrome & Leukodystrophy

- May 10, 2003 6 AM to May 28, 10:51 AM 2003-

A 2,348 Mile Marathon to Support a Marathon of Research!

Bob Bradford, forward position, Clark Eid, in the back, approaching L & D 24

May 12, Monday


Monday. Mostly sunny. Highs 60 to 65. Northwest winds 10 to 20 mph.



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Text Updates

Bill Pullen writes:

I ended up in the local police station today here at Grand Rapids. The fellow officers were kind enough to let me use their locker room and get cleaned up. A tip of the hat to the Boys in Blue here in Grand Rapids, Minnesota.

Hectic schedule. Lots of sleep loss. But all is going well.


I'm sending this update in from Dana Hanson:

Stan called at 9:30am.  The paddlers arrived at Jacobsen's Campground Landing at 8am, at River Mile 1141.   Bob got out of the canoe to eat, but Clark was so comfortable, he never "decanoed."  They stopped for only 30 minutes, and then hit the water again. 

They are about 35 miles ahead of the world record, and about 2 hours behind their own planned schedule.  Last night they paddled 40 miles without stopping, but took turns sleeping.  They saw lots of beavers, and the raccoons kept them awake splashing their tails at the canoe.  This morning they saw a bald eagle soaring over the river.  Their next stretch of paddling should take them 35 miles to Big Sandy Recreational Area.

I received an email query this morning about what the paddlers do if lightning is near.  Stan says it depends.  If it's close, yes they get off the river because lightning is usually associated with a strong storm front.  But if they want to, they can paddle in the "cone of protection."  This is a general rule of thumb where you make an imaginary line at a 45-degree angle from the top of the tallest trees to the river.  Paddle inside that cone and you're usually okay.  At a minimum, they can paddle within the cone of protection until they can access a decent take-out location.

There was a story I forgot to mention from yesterday.  Several people were sleeping, and the paddlers were both on land, also trying to rest.  Clark was in a sleeping bag, trying to close it up for warmth.  Stan told him to wait and he'd give him a good night kiss.  All he heard in response was ZZZIP -- and Clark was gone!


Clark called around 3:30 CST or so, said things were going well, everyone was doing better now .... that they were getting some sleep regularly. They are having some technical problems with the GPS as well as the APRS. He is going to try to call me with some occasional updates from the water so that I can update the position map more often.


Kent Spading, from the Army Corp of Engineers sent this emaill, to post on this blogger (Kent was part of Team Double Helix during our previous race on the Mississippi - the Mississippi River Race for Rett Syndrome, May 2001):

You many recall that the river splits at LD 27 (in St. Louis).     If you go to the right you go over the "Chain of Rocks" which is basically a submerged rock weir.   If you go to the left you go thru Lock and Dam 27.

I called the guys at LD27.    They said.....DO NOT go over the Chain of Rocks.   It is too dangerous at these flow levels (relatively low flows).      Go thru the lock and dam.....so stay to the LEFT!!!

In 2001 they went over the Chain of Rocks....but that was during high flows.  That would not be a good idea at this time.

Kenton Spading


I can't tell you want an experience it is to be with a group of people that are driven to a common goal. I'm truly honored to have met everyone on the team and had the great fortune to have been able to spend the first few days helping out with "Team Hope." Both Clark and Bob are so focused on achieving this goal that I am very confident that we will have a new record in the book at the end of May, but more important, we will have once again brought more attention to Rett Syndrome and Leukodystrophy.

I left the group last night at midnight and made it back to Blaine at 3:00 a.m., showered and jumped into bed and slept until 10:00 a.m. Then it was back to work for me at Noon today. Let me tell you, that's a little bit of culture shock.

I had a great time traveling (and being cold) with the road crew for the first two days. Like previous messages have noted, we kept very busy and got little sleep. I might have taken a few small cat naps, but since we got up on Saturday morning around 4:00 a.m. I only slept once for 3-4 hours. The paddlers only have been sleeping 3-4 hour stretchs too, in fact Bob got his first nap after the Winnie Dam (around 11:00 a.m. Sunday) and Clark finally laid his head down in the canoe when they left Leech River at about 4:30 p.m. on Sunday.

Last night before I left both paddlers were feeling great and paddling strong. They left Grand Rapids sometime between 11:30 and midnight. They were treated to a dinner (TO GO) of fried chicken and a lot of encouragement from the road crew as they slipped into the night below the dam. Bob had mentioned that they would be paddling for a while and also taking some naps throughout the wee morning hours.

The road crew is also doing great. You wouldn't think there would be much to do, but THERE IS!!! It seems you are always rushing to the next meeting point. Everything is focused on making sure the paddlers are well clothed, well fed and stay on the water paddling as much as possible. Janet is just doing a fantastic job not only feeding Bob and Clark but also feeding the road crew. In fact the road crew is just doing a great job, I wish I would have been able to spend more time helping the effort.

It was great to have Verlen and Jenny staying with the road crew as we moved down the river. Verlen is so respected by both Bob and Clark it's an extreme inspiration to both of them to see Verlen at each meeting point. As Tammy noted in one of her messages, I just had a great time talking with Verlen and hearing his canoeing stories, what a great man!

I will be watching the web and waiting for TEAM HOPE to come through the Twin Cities sometime on Wednesday.

Keep up the hard work everyone, GO TEAM HOPE!!




Stan and I were in the middle of our evening phone call and were close to the end of our conversation. Right at 7pm, Stan said "I gotta go -- they're here!" I sent my love to all and we hung up. "Here" is Palisade, MN. Tammy Hanson and group were going to provide a feast (fried chicken, baked beans, potato salad, and sundry other tidbits) for the paddlers and land crew in Aitken. However, because they won't be arriving there until 11pm or midnight, she decided it was best to feed them earlier in the evening. Several people from the surrounding countryside were also arriving to cheer them on.

The paddlers had expected to take four hours to get from Big Sandy Recreational Area to Palisade. Guess it just wasn't meant to be..... They made it in 3-1/2 hours instead!!! And to make things even nicer, Bob's wife and grandson (Janet and Davey) paddled with them the entire way! Bob, for those who don't know, is a marathon canoe racer and has had either Janet or Davey as his paddling partner in several events. Nice to keep it in the family!


We had another meeting with Team Hope this evening. We had planned on meeting them in our town of Aitkin for supper, but the timing was putting them in Palisade around meal time. Palisade is about 20 miles from us as the crow flies, but on the highway it is around 40 or so. We got into Palisade and headed for the campground right on the river thinking the road crew would be there was nobody there. We drove back to town to the "Pioneer Bar and Grill" where the owner was sitting at the bar, his name is Todd Dreher and had been in a picture with Bob and Verlen in the race 2 years ago. I called him earlier today to let him know they were coming through and he already knew about it. He said he planned to be down by the river later. After calling the road crew we went to the campground to set up some food for them and I drove up town for some last minute things. That was where I found Verlen and Jenny Kruger slowly going down main street looking for a 'home cooked meal'...........there is one cafe in town and they close at 3 in the afternoon, this is a pretty small town. It also happens to be the town where Verlen's logo from the race in 1984 is painted. Well, I told them that we had a bunch of food back at the campground and they headed back there. The road crew showed up shortly after and we all ate and enjoyed hearing the stories.

My husband's parents were there along with some neighbors and my daughter's (Rachel with Rett) aide from school was there also. We were expecting Bob and Clark sometime around 7:30 and sure enough at 7:00, my husband Bob saw them and we heard that famous "THEY'RE HERE"! Everyone jumps when they hear it and grabs for camera's right away. Janet and David were paddling along with them and looked like they were having a great time. They all got on land and Clark went right over to Rachel and got down on his knees to talk to her...............well, there is nothing more Rachel likes than to have a male paying attention to her..............this girl can flirt and she sure did then!! It was a really neat thing to watch and she was loving every minute of it.

We all had a wonderful time and they got back on the river at 8:00, it was a really peaceful night with the sun getting ready to set, the water was like glass.

Everyone seemed to be well rested and in good spirits.

We are planning to meet up with them for our final time tomorrow, we will be sad to see them go, but glad things are going well. Chuck and Lisa Evert who have a daughter with Rett plan to meet up with them somewhere just after the Twin Cities.
Tammy Hanson


Race Updates Next Day May 13