Proving that as experienced as you are in life, you never really can claim to have seen it all, a Nebraska man celebrated his 60th birthday last weekend by paddling 38 miles down the Missouri River in a very individualized craft: A hollowed-out 846-pound pumpkin, called Berta, which he'd been growing in his backyard for a decade. His quest: To break a Guinness World Record. Read on to find out if he made it, and what he plans to do next.
A Six-Hour Tour in a Pumpkin
Last Saturday, Duane Hansen took to the Missouri River at about 7:30 a.m. He pushed off in his pumpkin boat at Bellevue, Nebraska, with his destination Nebraska City. The trip took the Nebraska native about six hours. Six years earlier, Rick Swenson had paddled 25.5 miles in a pumpkin boat from Grand Forks, North Dakota to Breckenridge, Minnesota, setting a Guinness World Record at that time. Keep reading to see the video.
"Unique…If Not Slightly Crazy"
"Mr. Hansen is a long time Nebraska resident who enjoys growing large pumpkins, gourds and other vegetables as a hobby," said Phil Davidson, a Bellevue community official, on Facebook. "He came up with this idea when visiting Ohio and seeing another person attempt to set this record which is currently right around 30 miles. Seems like a unique, if not slightly crazy, way to celebrate his 60th birthday, which was [Friday]." Added Davidson: "He had his wife, family and friends on hand to assist with and help document the attempt. A few of them were following alongside him in a boat, should any mishaps occur."
Hansen Surpassed World Record Distance By 50%
Hansen hit the Guinness World Record distance at 2:52 p.m. and kept on going—for 12 more miles, Davidson reported on Facebook. "The Hansen family just posted on this thread that Duane Hansen made it to Nebraska City just after 6:30 p.m.! Congratulations, Duane for smashing the world record," he wrote. "'We are proud that you started this record-breaking 38-mile journey in Bellevue, and it's been fun to follow along."
"I'm So Proud of My Dad"
It took Hansen about 11 hours to complete the trip. Davidson reported that Hansen was "physically exhausted" but "happy he made it." "I'm so proud of my dad," Hansen's daughter told News Channel Nebraska. "He has always said that you can do anything you want, and how can you not believe somebody who goes out and does exactly what he wants, and I'm just so proud."
Trip Was Fraught With Peril
Hansen said his trip wasn't easy—rocky sandbars and shallow waters imperiled the pumpkin boat, as did the waves formed by passing crafts, which could have swamped him. "You've got to be on top of it the whole time—the whole time," he told the news outlet. The triumphant sailor said he was inspired by a giant-pumpkin-growing seminar he took in Portland, Oregon, where he met a woman who held the world record at the time. "I asked her a lot of questions and that's when I decided I wanted do this,' he said.
"I'm Done With This"
Guinness World Records has not yet recognized Hansen's accomplishment. When Hansen's wife, Allyson, was asked what's next for her husband, she told News Channel Nebraska, "I never know what's going to be next." But Hansen concluded, "I ain't gonna do this again. I'm done with this."