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Grand Canyon River Record Broken Twice in One Week

Pam Wolfson
Canoe and Kayak

For the second time in less than a week, a new speed record has been set by a non-motorized boat for the fastest trip down the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon. 

25 year old kayaker Ben Orkin of Denver made the 277 mile solo journey in 34 hours and 2 minutes. He was trying to break a speed record set in 1983, but a last minute check of his email revealed that record had been broken less than 48 hours earlier.

“I saw that there was an email from a paddler saying that four of them had gone off a day earlier and had broken the record by over an hour and a half. They wanted to wish me luck and know that the time to beat was now an hour and a half faster,” says Orkin.

Orkin beat the group’s time by well over an hour. He paddled day and night, fought off dehydration and hunger and rolled his kayak in Lava Falls, the fastest navigable rapid in the Western Hemisphere.

“I’m not a professional kayaker by any means, I’m not even a great kayaker, but I put my mind to it and it’s something I wanted to accomplish and I made sure it happened and all my hard work paid off,” says Orkin.

Before this week’s double speed record, the fastest time down the river in a non-motorized boat was just under 37 hours. It was set in 1983 by Flagstaff river guide Kenton Grua and two other men. 

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