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 15, Thursday












Text Updates from our Race Web Log

From Dana Hanson
Everybody got a few hours sleep at Ketters yesterday.  The strong wind they'd been fighting all day even took a rest and then gratefully, forgot to rev up again.  While going thru Minneapolis, Andrew certainly showed that this was his town -- he is able to find any boat ramp around!   At 5:30am this morning, the land crew met Clark & Bob south of St. Paul, at the 494 bridge.  A quick stop and they were off again. 

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:
This is great Mary!
I saw the guys last night after Austin's Little League game.  I took Diane and the kids over to Ketter's to see the guys.  They were sleeping but was able to have them meet the roadies.  I also took them down to the river and took some pictures of them next to the canoe (world record breaking canoe!).
More later.


Some folks have been asking me about the U.S. Army Corps of Engineer's lock and dam system. Now that Team Hope is in the lock system, I will provide a summary.

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 that.


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
Kenton Spading



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?

Kenton S.


  Forwarded by Mary Potter, from someone who lives near Dubuque:

The Locks in Dubuque were shut down!!!  There was a death/accident on
the river and the corp shut everything down.  I hope this doesn't back-up
the traffic much....  I see that they are now open!


From Don Keller:

I just called Andrew to try an get more coordinates. He could not give me
any but he said the paddlers are crossing Lake Pepin.

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 very well.

More later....


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 what happens.

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:
Tonight. A slight chance of showers early. Otherwise partly cloudy. Lows in the upper 40s. East winds 5 to 10 mph. Chance of rain 20 percent.
Friday. Partly sunny. Highs in the lower 70s. Northeast winds 5 to 10 mph.
Friday night. Mostly clear. Lows in the upper 40s. Light east winds.

430 PM CDT THU MAY 15 2003






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!


Team Hope is now a day and a half ahead of where we were in 2001. During the "Great Mississippi River Race for Rett Syndrome" 2001 it took Clark and me 7 days to get from the headwaters to Wabasha. This time Clark and Bob did it in 5 and a half days! Congratulations! You are great! And this includes everybody in the team, paddlers and support crew, groupies and friends who paddle along for a few miles. I wish I could be there!
Kurt Zimmermann (05/15/2003, 9.50 p.m. EDST)


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 8pm.

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

Race Update Next Day May 16......