Perrin Sets New SUP Record
St. Louis distance paddler Shane Perrin is no stranger to breaking new ground, being the first SUP athlete to complete endurance races including La Ruta Maya, The Texas Water Safari, and the MR340—races typically contested in canoes and kayaks. So, it’s no surprise that Perrin just established a new high water mark for most still water miles paddled in 24 hours: 95.6 miles. The women’s record in this unusual category is 90.7 miles, while no men’s standard had been set. Ben Friberg owns the record for most moving water miles paddle in 24 hours at 238.
Perrin had initially focused his late-spring schedule around an attempt to traverse the waters around California’s eight Channel Islands. But, after further research, he discovered that the US military has bases on two of the islands and, as such, he wouldn’t be able to complete the expedition. So, the 38-year-old paddler made the 24-hour record attempt his sole focus for May.
With a weekend of turbulent weather forecast across the Midwest, Perrin and his support crew arrived at Simpson Lake in St. Louis’s Valley Park—where Perrin conducts classes for SUP St. Louis—at 8:00 on Saturday morning. His support crew chief/resident technology wiz Joe Baisa and crew member Daren Wolf helped Perrin prepare boards for local paddlers taking SUP yoga and fitness sessions in return for sponsoring Perrin in his ‘Live Love SUP’ fundraising effort for the day, which raised $600, to send the campaign total to $1,088 thus far.
Perrin began his first paddle around the 1.2-mile loop at 9:00 am. Prior to launching, Baisa attached a Contour camera on the nose of the board facing Perrin, with a Garmin GPS unit attached a foot behind it. These devices were present to prove to the Guinness Book of World Records that Perrin had indeed paddled the total he would claim at the end of the ultra marathon event.
In the days leading up to the paddle, Perrin cut his finger on a chain saw, leaving a nasty gash. “For some reason I didn’t put on gloves until three hours in,” Perrin said. That decision caused the painful wound to reopen and then, as predicted, the weather didn’t play nice. May is the start of tornado season in Missouri and while thankfully there were no rotating clouds, Perrin did contend with lightning, outbreaks of torrential rain, and wind gusts that produced sizeable whitecaps and chop on the normally placid lake.
“I was at 52.5 miles after 12 hours, and so, [I] was on pace to exceed my target of 100 miles,” Perrin said, “but then, the wind set in and whichever way I turned on my loop, it seemed to follow me to become a headwind.”
After his average pace dropped from more than four miles per hour to just over 2.5 for a couple of hours, the wind suddenly switched again, this time cutting across the side of Perrin’s board. “I couldn’t fight that side wind standing up and had to drop to my knees for a while,” Perrin said. Another mishap occurred when he tried to swap from his medium paddle blade to a smaller one, with increased stroke cadence as the goal. The paddle got caught in Baisa’s jacket at the handover, and Perrin overreached to try and free it, losing his balance and unceremoniously falling into the lake. His smartphone took a bath and was only revived after Baisa put it in a bag of rice (gotta love those low cost fixes!).
Battling wind, dropped paddles, and his increasingly swollen hand, Perrin couldn’t regain the fast pace he had started out at. But, when 24 hours was up he’d still set an admirable mark at 95.6 miles. In addition to treating his hand, Perrin reported that on Monday morning he had to get his foam roller on his back and shoulders, “for at least 30 minutes to be able to walk out the door.”
Never one to rest or recover for long after breaking a new SUP boundary, Perrin will head to the US Virgin Islands next month for a 100-mile paddle. Then, he’ll join Nathan Woods and other paddlers from around the country on the EUG 2 PDX SUP Challenge on August 29, which will see the group glide 164 miles up the Willamette River from Eugene to Portland, Oregon. And, to wrap up his string of strenuous SUP missions this year, Perrin will head to the Netherlands in September for the grueling SUP 11-City Tour. “When they added the ‘non-stop tour’ division to this year’s event, that clinched it for me—I had to go and take on those 135 miles,” Perrin said. —Phil White