Oh my gourd: Nebraska man paddles 38 miles in hollowed out pumpkin

Duane Hansen says his knees still hurt after he broke a pumpkin-paddling record that actually exists.

Man breaks record after paddling down Missouri River in giant hollowed-out pumpkin – video

Guardian staff
Last modified on 2022 Aug 30

Step aside, ultramarathoners: America has a new endurance athlete, and he’s as gourd as it gets.

A Nebraska man has set a new world record after he paddled 38 miles down a river in a huge, hollowed-out pumpkin he grew himself.

Duane Hansen of Syracuse, Nebraska, completed his journey last week, according to a Facebook post from the city of Bellevue on Saturday.

man in lifejacket holds on to giant pumpkin near dockThe journey took about 11 hours. Photograph: Phil Davidson/Reuters

Photos on social media show Hansen crouched inside the giant squash, which weighed in at 846lb, according to the Facebook post. Officials said Hansen set off down the Missouri river around 7:30am and completed his journey just after 6:30pm.



This Nebraska resident set a record for paddling in a giant hollowed-out pumpkin, going down the Missouri river for 38 miles


It might look like fun – but you’d butternut try this at home. The 11-hour voyage appeared to take a physical toll on Hansen, who named the orange vessel Berta. “I went 38 miles down the river without standing up in that pumpkin and my knees still hurt,” Hansen said in a video posted by Reuters. “I probably won’t try this again,” he added with a smile. “If somebody breaks this record, I will bow down to them because they are tough.”

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He told the Omaha World-Herald he had endured collisions with a sandbar and a rock as well as heavy rain and cold.

“I thought, ‘I’ll just paddle harder and warm up.’ I wasn’t thinking about quitting,” he said. “I went another four to five miles and it rained again. Berta is only about eight inches above the water line. I’ve never paid so much attention for so long in my entire life. It was tough.”

Hansen is described in the Facebook post as a “longtime Nebraska resident who enjoys growing large pumpkins, gourds and other vegetables as a hobby” and was inspired to vanquish the previous record after seeing another paddler attempt it. “Seems like a unique if not slightly crazy way to celebrate his 60th birthday, which was yesterday,” the post read.

man in lifejacket holds on to giant pumpkin near dock
‘Seems like a unique if not slightly crazy way to celebrate his 60th birthday,’ the city’s post said. Photograph: Phil Davidson | Reuters

Hansen asked city officials to bear witness to the feat so that it would be recognized by Guinness World Records. The organization has not yet validated the results, according to the Washington Post, but it confirmed it would beat the current record for “longest journey by pumpkin boat” currently held by Rick Swenson, who traveled 25.5 miles (41.038 km) in Grand Forks, North Dakota, in 2016.

Pumpkins are famed for their ability to reach extraordinary sizes, with some varieties weighing over 2,000lb.


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