It’s safe to state that this year’s pumpkin spice season has officially begun. Not because you can head over to your local hot beverage vendor of choice for a pumpkin spice latte, but because a Nebraska man paddled 38 miles down the Missouri River in an 846-pound pumpkin. This gourd fording expedition was a half-decade-long effort with the ultimate goal being a place in the Guinness World Records.
Duane Hansen of Syracuse, Nebraska had spent over a decade growing giant pumpkins as a hobby. Still, he realized several years ago that he wanted to take his pastime in a new direction. According to the Omaha World-Herald, he met the then-record-holding paddler at a pumpkin-growing seminar in Portland, Oregon five years ago. That was the moment when he decided that he wanted to paddle hallowed-out pumpkins and break her record.
This year, Hansen finally grew a pumpkin large enough for the attempt. The pumpkin named Berta grew to 846 pounds and expanded at a rate of 15 pounds per day during the later stages.
Hansen aimed to beat the current record of 25.5 miles by 10 or 15 miles. It was much easier said than done as the Nebraskan had to deal with the elements in nothing but a tank top, life vest and jean shorts. He climbed into the pumpkin last Thursday morning, the day after his 60th birthday, to begin his voyage.
Hansen dealt with colliding with a sandbar and rock as well as being soaked with water. He recalled, “I thought, ‘I’ll just paddle harder and warm up.’ I wasn’t thinking about quitting. 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.”
Six hours later, Duane Hansen completed his 38-mile journey with Berta. A video posted by Reuters featured Hansen after the experience saying, “I went 38 miles down the river without standing up in that pumpkin, and my knees still hurt. But, I probably won’t try this again and if somebody breaks this record, I will bow down to them because they are tough.” The trip in the hollowed-out pumpkin is long enough to break the record, but Guinness World Records just need to verify the result.