A team of eight whitewater rafters missed setting a new speed record for rowing down the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon this week when their raft was punctured in the attempt. The group spent nearly 40 hours out on the water, but came up short in their epic attempt to cover the 277 mile distance as quickly as possible.
The 8-person squad, which includes the 6-man U.S. Whitewater Rafting team had been planning the Grand Canyon run for years, but received new incentive in 2016 when a new speed record was set. For years, the time to beat had been 36 hours, 38 minutes held by Kenton Grua, Rudi Putsches and Steve Reynolds since 1983. But last year, solo kayaker Ben Orkin set a new record by running the entire stretch in just 34 hours and two minutes.
Unfortunately for this team, the final time was 39 hours, 24 minutes, but they were slowed down greatly in their efforts thanks to the punctured raft, which couldn’t be fixed properly while on the water. That left one of the raft’s tubes almost completely deflated, causing way too much drag to overcome. A strong headwind didn’t help their efforts either.
Still, the team wasn’t feeling sorry for themselves. They seemed to enjoy the adventure, even though they didn’t set a new record along the way. After all, traveling through the Grand Canyon is always an amazing experience, and for some it was the first go at the Colorado River. There is no word yet on if they’ll return to try for the record a second time, but something tells me we haven’t heard the last of this crew.
Read the entire story about their rafting expedition here. It has a lot of great moments and some big challenges that they faced along the way.
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