Kansas City kayaker attempts to break Mississippi River speed record

Updated: Jun. 18, 2021 at 5:47 PM CDT
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CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. (KFVS) - A Kansas City nurse is attempting to set a speed record, by paddling the entire length of the Mississippi River. She hopes to be the fastest solo female to complete the task, landing her in the Guinness Book of World Records.

The last woman to paddle the river from it’s source in Northern Minnesota to it’s end in the Gulf of Mexico, did it in 61 days. Kayaker Traci Lynn Martin plans to do it in under 45.

“My message really is to show people what’s possible,” said Martin.

For Martin, paddling the Mississippi is about more than getting a record. It’s also about raising awareness for chronic pain.

”I was diagnosed with scleroderma this year. So they’re both autoimmune diseases. People with autoimmune diseases, people with chronic pain in general, they tend to stop living their life, " she stated.

Marv Kuziel is Tracy’s number one motivator and ground crew. He supports Tracy’s dream.

“She will get the Guinness record for solo female on the Mississippi. She won’t give up until she does,” Kuziel said.

He said Martin wakes up in pain every day, but still fights to keep moving. “Our typical morning, is it takes three hours to get her up and going. There’s a lot of people that follow her because of that.”

Martin said if she can get up everyday and paddle for hours with chronic pain, you can keep doing what you love. “The bottom line is you’re gonna hurt. You can sit in bed or you can sit in your chair in your living room and feel depressed and hurt or you can get outside and do the things that you love. And if you do the things that you love you are still gonna hurt, but mentally you’ll just feel better. And if you feel better mentally, it gives you a better quality of life.”

Martin left Grand Tower around 11 a.m. on June 6, fighting headwinds down the river. She arrived at Cape Girardeau in less than six hours where she rested for the evening, before continuing her journey south.

She plans complete the journey arriving at mile marker zero in the Gulf of Mexico on the Fourth of July.

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