If only the gold rushers had stand-up paddleboards and Ben Friberg’s stand-up stamina. On June 27, Ben Friberg set a new SUP Distance World Record on Canada’s Yukon River by paddling a whopping 238 miles in a single 24-hour period. All we can say is that’s a lot of standing and paddling…
“Riding the high water levels from the 2011/2012-winter ice and snowmelt provided the perfect vehicle to go for it,” says the Tennessee-based paddler, adding that the region’s long hours of daylight also helped. “The goal was to set the bar as high as possible for the distance a stand up paddler could achieve in a day.”
Retrofitting a Harmony BTS Rudder Kit sea kayak rudder onto the back of his board for tracking, Friberg began at the north end of Lake Laberge at 3:07 pm on June 26. To keep track of distance, he wore three GPS tracking devices to monitor progress. He paddled non-stop, taking breaks only to switch out hydration packs or eat a quick snack.
At this pace he maintained a solid 10 mph moving average, reaching 200 miles in the 20th hour. He then paddled an additional 38 miles in the final four, ending well beyond the Ingersoll Islands.
“During hours 22 and 23 my stroke rate and power per stroke dropped drastically,” he says. “During the 24th hour adrenaline kicked in and I started a final sprint that lasted approx 45 minutes. After it was over I passed out on the boat for about 20 minutes.”
He adds that he didn’t fall off once during the record-setting paddle. “Thank goodness,” he says. “It would have been a big deal and could have compounded into additional falls. My confidence would have suffered, core temp would have dropped, and time would have been wasted changing clothes.”
As for his most harrowing moment, it came at mile 60 in a brutal headwind. “I had numerous close calls to falling off the board,” he says. “I thought I was going to puke a couple times. There were lots of variables in play that could have been bad for success.”
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