2003 World Record Set:
18 days, 4 hours, 51 minutes!
Mississippi River Challenge for
- May 10, 2003 6 AM to May 28, 10:51 AM 2003-
A 2,348 Mile Marathon to Support a Marathon of Research!
May 15, Thursday
The support crew is now at the boat ramp at Diamond Bluff, MN.
They should be able to get a few good zzz's in before the paddlers
arrive. (Good thing, too, because Stan sounds extremely tired.)
They're expected around 11:30am. Once they leave Diamond Bluff,
their next planned stop is just before Lake Pepin, which is known
for being extremely windy. But the weather has been great so
far today with little wind - great for paddling. Hopefully that
pleasant condition will continue once Bob & Clark reach Lake Pepin.
Stan's interview with Smash on KLOU 103.3FM went well. Unfortunately,
Stan mentioned that they'd be arriving at the Arch in St. Louis
next Wednesday at 10am, while their actual planned arrival is
scheduled for Tuesday at 10am. Of course, only time will tell
if they make it on Tuesday or Wednesday, or earlier or later!
At the end of the interview Smash asked Stan to call tomorrow
& let him know how things were going. The interview was actually
taped on Wednesday morning and aired Thursday morning. When Stan
called in this morning (Thursday), Smash told him he wouldn't
be able to do any more interviews until they were at or near the
end. At least we got some air time!
From Tony Swenson:
There are 29 locks and dams between Mpls., MN and St. Louis,
MO. Lock and Dam 27 (LD 27), in St. Louis, is the last LD. So,
you might ask, if LD 27 (commonly called Mel Price LD) is the
last one how can there be 29 total? Well......after the original
numbers were assigned, three additional LDs were added (Upper
and Lower St. Anthony and LD 5A) and one was not needed (LD
23 does not exist) for a total of 29. The 29 LDs are divided
between 3 Corps of Engineers Districts as follows: Upper St.
Anthony thru LD 10 = St. Paul District (the District I work
for), LD11 thru LD22 = Rock Island Distict, LD 24 thru LD27
= St. Louis District. There are no LD's between St. Louis and
the Gulf of Mexico....so it is clear sailing (hopefully) after
I put together an informational email message on the race
on Monday which was sent to all the locks and dams...so all
the sites know the crew is on the river. I have also given the
road crew folks a list of all athe phone numbers, radio frequencies
and points-of-contact for each lock and dam with instructions
to call each one as they move downstream. The LD's can then
tell them whether or not they have to wait in line (wait for
other boats) to lock thru or if they are first in line. If they
have to wait, they can decide if they want to portage. Each
LD can give them advice on where to portage...or whether or
not it is advisable given the layout.
I was on a business trip yesterday (May 14). I got a call around
10 AM on my cell phone from my office stating that they were
getting reports of lots of floating debris (trees, boards, etc)
on the river and that the river was running very fast (recent
rain storms) thru the Twin Cities area (Upper St. Anthony, LD
1 etc). They asked me to notify Team Hope. I immediately called
Andrew on the road crew and passed on the info. He said they
were going to meet the canoe at Ketter's Canoes (in a North
Twin Cities suburb) at around 7 pm. Later, around 3 PM, the
Road Crew Chief (Stan-the-Man) called me to say they were at
Ketter's and to confirm the earlier info I had given Andrew
regarding floating debris, fast currents etc. Stan sounded tired
but he was in good spirits. It turns out that his earlier car/truck
problems resulted from a leaking windshield which shorted out
the vehicle's computer.
More Blog later
Just talked to Andrew and he said Clark and Bob should be starting the journey through Lake Pepin. Weather is great and paddlers are in great spirts. Road crew has outfitted the camera on the canoe and they are filming. Should be a great day to paddle Pepin, calm winds and sunny.
I'm sitting here at my desk working on artwork for food packaging,
would much rather be racing down the road to the next meeting
point with the road crew. Miss you guys - GO TEAM HOPE!
Sorry to hear about the tragic news at Dubuque, Iowa. The Mississippi
River is a very dangerous animal as is Mother Nature in general.
This is not a water park. Most accidents on the river happen to
inexperienced people. Both Clark and Bob are very safety minded
professionals. Lock and Dam No. 11 is at Dubuque, Iowa. It is
the first lock and dam in the Corps of Engineers Rock Island District
(see my earlier blog below for info on the Corps' Districts).
Coincidently, the Coast Guard stopped the canoes at No. 11 during
the 2001 race due to dangerous high water, fast currents, floating
debris etc. They were delayed for a day or two. There is a canoe
racer who lives just a few blocks from the dam who let the crew
sleep in his house, fed the team etc. I wonder if they stopped
by there this year?
Forwarded by Mary Potter, from someone who lives near Dubuque:
The Locks in Dubuque were shut down!!! There was a death/accident
From Don Keller:
I just called Andrew to try an get more coordinates. He could
not give me
The road crew are waiting at Wabasha, with an ETA of 7:00 PM
Stan called around 5:50 CST. The road crew is waiting on the
South end of Lake Pepin for the paddlers with real chili - non
of that canned stuff! The paddlers are expected around 6 PM. Stan
said the weather was great, water was calm and they were all doing
_____________________________________________Clark is on the phone now, 7:30 PM CST, and said they just finished crossing Lake Pepin! They were very lucky, the weather and the lake both stayed calm and he said they smoked it! They are doing well overall... he mentioned he did sleep at Ketter's for 2 whole hours last night at the "party" in real beds.... they are trying to keep up on their sleep shifts before they fall asleep paddling... he said they are sleeping in no more than 2 hour shifts. Apparently that's about all they can sleep before they need to get up and go to the bathroom and then start paddling again.
He said the miles they put on today were hard miles, no current,
strict paddling to get ahead.
I can hear our 6 year old son talking to him now, asking him
if he is sitting in the front? I'm sure it's a little confusing
to Noah just where Clark is and what he is doing... oops, Noah
just said "we lost Satellite" so I better go hang up, hopefully
Clark can call back....
Noah is informing me that Clark is way way in first now, and
really far and in the lead :-). He says that dad will be the winner.
Perhaps he does understand more than I thought.
Clark called back, as they were all packing up, and send they are
going to set off again and take turns sleeping and paddling. Weather
looks good now where they are. He must have eaten his chili quickly,
poor Bob :-).
We talked about how the APRS/GPS was intermittently working and
he is debating whether to continue using it or not. It's alot of
weight to carry. I told him when he first got to the cities the
maps were updating very well, but there had been some large lags
today. I think for now it's still on the boat. I'm hoping they can
continue to try it, but if not, the road crew can send information
manually to update the map when they see the paddlers. We'll see
Well, they are literally packing up and I have a feeling he is
walking towards the water as he hangs up. Good luck Team Hope!
I'm looking up weather and warnings for Winona, MN, as the team is just south of that now and starting to paddle:
Weather expected for that area from the National Weather Service:
...A FLOOD WARNING REMAINS IN EFFECT FOR THE MISSISSIPPI RIVER AT
...MINOR FLOODING IS OCCURRING AND WILL CONTINUE...
RUNOFF FROM RAINFALL OVER THE PAST SEVERAL DAYS CONTINUES TO RESULT
AT WINONA...THE STAGE WAS 11.68 FEET AT 3 PM THURSDAY. FLOOD STAGE
Chuck and I have returned from another day of being 'groupies' with the road crew and the paddlers. We had a great time! The weather was awesome. We first met up with them at Diamond Bluff Landing in WI. The paddlers arrived around 11:07am (which is when Chuck and I signed the official log.) They literally scarfed down Chuck's homemade rhubarb pie. Bill kept saying how aweful it was so that the kids didn't eat any. (he was joking of course) We took lots of pictures. I took one of Clark, Chuck, a copy of our local newspaper and the pie. If I send it to the newspaper they will print it and we get free publicity. I will see if the local writer will do a little article too. We met up with them again in Red Wing MN. They came on shore for a short time. The park we were at was full of high school kids doing a project. Angie had them cheer as the guys got close to shore. Clark and Bob took pictures with the class while eating their potato salad with olives on it. (yuck!, but the guys liked it) Bob wanted to know if there was more pie left. Unfortunately it was all gone. Maybe we can send them one to New Orleans.
Chuck and I had to head back for home to pick up Jill at school.
We left Red Wing around 2pm. Before we left Chuck and Janet had
an emotional moment as we read about Michael on the message Bob
has on the canoe. As Janet said, it is good for us all to stop and
reflect on why this adventure is taking place. Everyone seemed in
great spirits. Clark has grown a 1/4" of 'fuzz' from the top of
his head to the tip of his chin. I guess they won't take a lot of
time to shave during this adventure. Maybe they will look like the
guys from ZZ Top when they finish??!! Chuck is planning on meeting
up with them tomorrow near LaCrosse. We are talking about bringing
Jill Saturday and Sunday and meet them near Dubuque IA. We are all
going to be groupies! Good luck TEAM HOPE, YOU ARE ALL AWESOME!
Well, I haven't blogged yet this evening, so this will cover a
mish-mash of the last several hours. Earlier today, Stan spoke with
the Lockmater of Lock & Dam 3. He said that he's heard all about
the paddlers and is waiting for Clark and Bob. The lockmaster said
they should call him when they get closer to L&D3 and he'll have
it ready for them. Stan said the homemade, rhubarb custard pie was
out-of-this-world delicious! The 120 grade school kids that they
met earlier were being taught by a Native American about how beautiful
the river is, how it is our heritage, and why it should be maintained.
Stan said it was quite a sight to see all those youngsters cheering
Team Hope on! Clark & Bob left Wabasha (river mile 760) right at
As Stan and I spoke (9:40pm), the support crew is just on the outskirts
of Winona. Suddenly the clouds parted and the most beautiful lunar
eclipse appeared in the sky, about 40% coverage. Stan said it must
be absolutely gorgeous for Bob & Clark, because heading south on
the river, it had to be right ahead of them all the way!
Late this evening, I received an email from Nick Erickson. I conveyed
his question to Stan, and Stan said it was a most interesting question:
"What is the most dangerous thing you don't want to have to face
on your trip?" Stan said all sorts of things came to mind, especially
when you considered what "most dangerous" means to the paddlers
as opposed to what it means to the support crew. They are going
to talk about it later and we'll be sure to convey the answer to
all. Thanks, Nick, for that great question!
Nick's question reminded me of something that happened to Team
Kruger during the Great Mississippi River Race of 2001 that certainly
had an effect on all the support crew. It served to remind us how
really dangerous canoeing on the river can get. It was in the very
early morning hours. We were waiting for our two paddlers, Bob Bradford
and Verlen Kruger, to show up. If they'd only been 20 or 30 minutes
late, we would have been okay. But minute by minute, time slipped
by with no word. Unfortunately, it reached the point where they
were more than two hours late for our rendevous. It's a really scary
thing to not know what has happened or where your paddlers are.
You look each other in the eye, afraid to voice the worst. No one
would say anything. But you could see the worry on everyone's face.
Verlen & Bob finally showed up. There were hugs and tears of joy,
but only sighs of relief could be heard. I pray that the support
crew this year never has to go thru that with Clark & Bob.
Jacob Phelps signalling the paddlers at Diamond Bluff, Wisconsin, 05/15/2003, Photo by Lisa Evert