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Hartford High School grad looks to set new Wisconsin River 2017 Paddling Record


July 20, 2017 – Hartford, WI –  My name is Benjamin Sasse and this Friday I will be attempting to beat the official paddling record on the Wisconsin River.

The record was set back in 1983 using a canoe. I will be trying to beat the record using a plastic Wilderness Systems Tsunami 165 Kayak.

During the trip my wife Kayla Sasse and my 2.5 month old son Aldo will be supporting me along the journey. My mother Carol, brother Nick, and father Jeff will also be supporting me along the trip.

I am 26 years old and graduated from the University of Wisconsin Stevens Point (UWSP) with a double major in Fisheries and Biology.

My wife Kayla and I met while studying at UWSP and she has always been up for an adventure!

In 2015 I completed my first trip along the Wisconsin River using a sit on top kayak for the first half and a sea kayak for the second half.

The Wisconsin River is 436 Miles long and the current paddling record was set in a canoe back in 1983 by Mike Kinziger and Jay Thurston.

The current paddling record is 6 days 10 hours and unknown minutes. In 2008 Mr. Kinziger and Mr. Thurston attempted to break their previous record and but finished in 7 days and 3 hours. In 2016 Jesse Hieb was the first person to paddleboard the entire Wisconsin River and that took 16 days.

I will be attempting to complete the entire Wisconsin River in 6 days 0 hours and 0 minutes. As the river widens I am able to cover ground much more quickly. My final day I plan on kayaking 90 miles through the Lower Wisconsin Riverway, which spans from Prairie Du Sac to Wyalusing State Park.

The Wisconsin River begins in Lac Vieux Desert, Vilas County. The river winds through northern Wisconsin passing through Eagle River, Rhinelander, Tomahawk, Merrill, Wausau and Stevens Point.

These Iconic towns in Wisconsin were made possible when early pioneers built dams to control the mighty Wisconsin. To this day many of the dams have been maintained or replaced to benefit the people of Wisconsin.

As I continue my journey downstream I will pass through Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin Dells, and Portage, Wisconsin.

The Lower Wisconsin River was too mighty for early settlers to tame. Flooding was always a concern, destroying steamboats, railroad bridges and towns. Now the lower Wisconsin River Way is protected, providing a unique natural environment where wildlife can flourish.

Major Checkpoints I am aiming for*: Lac Vieux Desert Start Rainbow Flowage Day One Night Fri Merrill School Forest Day Two Night Sat Stevens Point Flowage Day Three Night Sun Castle Rock Lake Hwy 21 Bridge Day Four Night Mon Prairie Du Sac Day Five Night Tues Wyalusing Day Six Night Wed Have Until Thursday at 6pm to complete the Wisconsin River if I start at 8am Friday I have 154 hours to complete the race in 6 days 10 hours.


Photo courtersy Ben Sasse

*All checkpoints and scheduling are tentative and may vary depending on river and weather conditions.


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