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Middleton man attempts to break record for fastest paddle down the Wisconsin River

Joseph Spenetta

Note: Joseph Spennetta’s original plan was to start early in the morning, around 8:15 a.m. Wednesday he let WXPR know he’s going to start a little later today.

Joseph Spennetta doesn’t want to waste any daylight as he attempts to break the record for fastest paddle down the Wisconsin River.

“[I want] to be ready to be on the river the moment any sunlight starts which is around is 4:15/4:20 this time of year,” said Spennetta.

The current record is 151 hours or just over 6 days.

Spennetta thinks he can do it in 144 hours which would be 6 days on the dot.

“I’ve done this trip a few times, but never for speed. As I was getting into shape after the end of the winter, I was looking around and saw the time and said, ‘I think that’s something that I can beat,’” said he said.

That record includes time on and off the river.

He plans to be up at 3:00 each morning and paddle until the last light fades from the sky.

Mostly he’ll be camping near the river, though with rain in the forecast, he may opt for a nearby hotel.

“I have all my camping gear with me, but I do have a ground crew. My sister has graciously agreed to help, and a friend is helping. If something happens, if I get into trouble with weather, if my canoe capsizes and everything gets wet, I’ll have somebody there each day who can help get me dry and back on track,” said Spennetta.

The journey will take him more than 435 miles and over 25 dams.

While it’s likely to be grueling at times, Spennetta is looking forward to the experience.

“It’s nice to unplug and get away from the rest of the world at times. I enjoy getting out on the water for intense brief sessions. Not something I do every week, but when I do, I do it to the extreme,” he said.

Spennetta says he’s grateful for friends and family who are supporting him this attempt as well as the Princeton Club in Madison who is sponsoring him.

You can track Spennetta’s progress as he makes his way down the river.

Follow this link and enter the password: Wisconsin

Katie Thoresen is WXPR's News Director/Vice President.
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