NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) — Traci Lynn Martin is a nurse and a paddler, and now she holds the record for the fastest female solo paddler on the Mississippi River.
On Sunday, July 11, Martin completed a goal she set for herself almost a year ago, in August 2020.
Martin comes from Kansas City, Mo., with what some would describe as a true story of encouragement.
Her journey started on May 17 at the headwaters of the Mississippi River, at Lake Itasca.
Fifty-five days, eight hours and 17 minutes later, she finished at mile marker zero at the Head of Passes.
According to Martin, the journey wasn’t a smooth ride, to say the least.
She faced many obstacles on the water.
Beaver dams, bug bites, barges, and ships on the river were just some of the obstacles she dealt with.
One thing that kept Martin afloat and paddling through was her passion to inspire others “to keep on going on.”
Although Martin suffers from two autoimmune diseases that take a toll on her body, she wanted to get a message across to anyone that needs encouragement.
“I hope people never give up, if you can dream it you can do it. Life is short, don’t sit at home in despair. If you have chronic pain you are going to hurt regardless so you might as well do what you love,” said Martin.
Martin had a massive following of people from up and down the river, as well as worldwide.
People cheered her on in person and on her Facebook page JustAroundThePointe.
One of her followers even nicknamed her the “Mississippi Mermaid.”
Martin got to check a box she always dreamed of off her bucket list and inspired many along the way.
She said her favorite part of the journey was getting to meet the amazing people along the Mississippi, and build friendships that she hopes, last a lifetime.
Traci’s next step is to rest up and head back to work.
Next year she already has another adventure awaiting.
Martin plans to paddle through the upper Missouri River for four to five weeks to relax and enjoy the scenery.
Martin will submit her journey to Guinness World Records as soon as she gathers the documentation needed.