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Middleton man eager to try again next summer as he fails to break speed record down Wisconsin River

Joseph Spennetta

A Wisconsin man didn’t reach his goal of being the fastest person to paddle down the Wisconsin River.

But that’s not discouraging him from trying again.

“I feel wonderful,” said Joseph Spennetta.

That might not be the reaction you’d expect from a man who set out to paddle down the Wisconsin River in six days and ended up taking nine.

But that’s the attitude Spennetta is holding onto after his adventure.

“I really had a great time. I want to do it again next year,” he said.

WXPR first introduced you to the Middleton man on May 25th, the day he put his canoe in Lac Vieux Desert and began his attempt to break the record for fastest paddle down the Wisconsin River.

The trip was going well until he hit the Castle Rock Flowage section in Adams County.

“[I] ran into a very heavy wind, 20 miles per hour, constant headwind. Really in that flowage there’s no edges to hide behind. I was paddling for all I was worth to 20 mph headwinds and really big waves, ended up swamping the canoe, tipping over four times. The last time my paddle ended up breaking as well as part of the canoe,” said Spennetta.

To make matters worse, he couldn’t get a hold of his sister who was following his route in a car to help in emergencies.

“Thank you to all the people, especially around the Castle Rock Flowage, who were wise enough and nice enough to help me with getting a hold of my transportation and getting me re-hydrated while I was waiting,” he said. “A lot of nice people, didn’t catch everyone’s names, but there were a lot of really nice people who were very helpful.”

Even though Spennetta knew he was out of the running to break the record, he still wanted to see it through.

He went home to regroup, get a new paddle, and fix the canoe.

Then went back to the river and finished the route.

“I couldn’t do it in record time but it was still an amazing experience,” he said.

Spennetta says he learned a lot on this trip, knowledge he’ll use when he makes another attempt to break the record next summer.

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