In the early hours of Wednesday morning, four paddlers — Ben Luck, Ryan Casey and brothers Matt and Nate Klema — were preparing to make Grand Canyon history. They loaded their kayaks, three Pyranha Speeders and a Perception Wavehopper, and arranged their tracking devices to begin transmitting. The men knew that if they could maintain a pace of just over 7.5 miles per hour for 277 miles, they would beat the non-motorized speed record set in 1983 by a wooden dory named the Emerald Mile. At exactly 4:30 a.m. on January 20, 2016, they shoved off into the moonlight.
It wasn’t the first time that someone would challenge the dory’s time of 36 hours and 38 minutes that was set in June of 1983 during the largest flood the Grand Canyon has seen since the construction of Glen Canyon Dam.