Source to Sea

British adventurer Dave Cornthwaite spent almost three months stand-up paddleboarding the length of the Mississippi River. We break his trip down by the numbers.

Oct 13, 2011
Outside Magazine
Dave Cornthwaite on the river

Dave Cornthwaite on the river    Photo: Courtesy of Dave Cornthwaite

Cornthwaite in St. Louis, Missouri

Cornthwaite in St. Louis, Missouri

On June 20, Dave Cornthwaite popped up on his stand-up paddleboard in Lake Itasca, Minnesota and started south. Eighty-two days and 1,282,133 strokes later he hit the Gulf of Mexico. The trip was the fourth of 25 human-powered, 1,000-plus-mile journeys that Cornthwaite plans to make as part of his Expedition1000 project. Here's what one of those journeys looks like, by the numbers.

120: Number of blisters Cornthwaite developed during the trip, mostly on his fingers. “It didn’t get too bad though,” says Cornthwaite. “I’ve learned to look after my blisters since a half-tennis-ball-size blister developed on my right foot when skateboarding the length of Britain."

41.5: Packets of beef jerky Cornthwaite consumed. He also downed 135 Nakd energy bars, 55 Coca Colas, 30 boil-in-the-bag dehydrated dinners, and 12 burgers on his way to consuming 7,500 calories a day.

123: Number of other paddlers that joined Cornthwaite along the way. The largest group included 19 people from Memphis who matched him stroke for stroke for 20 miles, from Shelby Forest to Memphis, Tennessee.

1: Size XXXL Elvis jumpsuit and "proper cape" Cornthwaite acquired from Graceland. “I arrived in Memphis a British man and paddled away as Elvis,” he says.

77.2: Longest distance Cornthwaite paddled in one day, starting 27 miles downstream from New Orleans and finishing in Venice, Louisiana, beating the previous world record by 16.5 miles.

3.25: Hours Cornthwaite slept on a typical paddling day.

11.1: Cornthwaite's fastest speed, in miles per hour, clocked going around a large bend just outside Vicksburg, Mississippi.

0: Times Cornthwaite fell off his board, though rapids knocked him to his knees on three occasions.  “All my swimming was done by choice," he says.

3: Number of times barges blew their horns at Cornthwaite, the last of which was near Baton Rouge.

9: Alligators Cornthwaite saw from his board. He also saw 17 snakes, including a North American water moccasin he found snuggled up under his tent one morning halfway between Helena West, Arkansas and Rosedale, Mississippi.

Approximate number of paddle strokes Cornthwaite took during his journey. Cornthwaite figured the number using the total distance from his GPS, based on his estimate that he took one stroke every three meters.

4: Puffs Cornthwaite took from a 12-inch cigar given to him by a man in Memphis after he reached the Gulf of Mexico.

Filed To: Paddleboarding

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