Minnesota man paddles pumpkin 26 miles to new world record

Oslo, Minn. – It’s a cross of James and the Giant Peach with Peter, Peter Pumpkin eater, in a true story you can’t make up.

“A half a mile beforehand, just as you’re getting mentally prepared, it all comes crumbling down,” said Rick Swenson, World Record Holder.

Rick Swenson set sail from Grand Forks early Saturday morning, trying to break what he thought was an eight-mile world record for longest distance floated in a pumpkin.

“We got about seven and a half miles in, thinking it was eight and we got a text that somebody had broken it at 15 a week ago. And that was completely demoralizing,” said Swenson.


Luckily for Swenson, he had a sturdy pumpkin and had planned to float further than that, nearly 26 miles down the Red River to Oslo, Minn.

Swenson completed his journey 13 hours and 40 minutes after launching from Grand Forks, and crushed the recently set record by over 10 miles.

“When we got to Oslo, we had a really nice welcome. There were between 30 and 40 people there,” said Swenson.

Swenson credits his moral support, a small group of family and friends who trailed behind him in boats, as the reason he was able to make it the full way.

“It was getting boring towards the end. Especially when we got towards Oslo it kind of slowed down and there was no wind. I mean it was beautiful, but you knew you were getting towards the end and you didn’t want to stop and it was starting to get really boring,” said Swenson.

Despite some sore legs and a stack of paperwork to fill out for the Guinness Book of World Records, Swenson has no regrets.


Would he ever do it again?

“I have no intentions of doing it again. Once is good enough!” said Swenson.

As for his pumpkin, it’s going on display at the Wahpeton Zoo until after Halloween; it will then be fed to the animals.


Written by Scott Cook as published in the Duluth News Tribune