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3 men pass through Red Wing on potentially record-breaking canoe trip

After a long day of paddling, Kevin Eckelkamp, Nate Lastinger and KJ Millhone pose for a photo with their canoe on May 15, 2018. Cate Zenzen / RiverTown Multimedia1 / 3
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This lightweight carbon fiber canoe will carry the three men along the entire Mississippi River. Cate Zenzen / RiverTown Multimedia3 / 3

Three men launched their canoe May 10 into Lake Itasca to begin a long journey that will take them the entire length of the Mississippi River. The route took them through the Red Wing area Tuesday.

Kevin Eckelkamp, Nate Lastinger and KJ Millhone will be paddling non-stop until they reach the Gulf of Mexico. There is no time to rest as the voyagers are on a mission to break a world record.

Millhone has taken this route before, he told the St. Paul Pioneer Press. He and Steve Eckelkamp, Kevin's late uncle, canoed the entire Mississippi River in just 35 days in 1980. Nearly 40 years later, their record has since been broken and the current best sits at 18 days. Now equipped with better technology than his last adventure, Millhone said he hopes to be even faster.

With three men in the canoe, one will sleep while the others continue paddling, switching off every five hours. Lisa Gray with the trip's ground crew said they will be paddling 24/7, stopping only for quick provisions but never for an extended period of time.

The ground crew consists of family and friends of the trio that will be following them throughout their route via land. They are responsible for providing meals and a change of clothes, exchanged during quick stops.

On Tuesday night the expedition stopped at Mr-Sippi Yacht Brokerage Bar in Hager City, where their support team spent the night. They arrived to an awaiting bonfire and a car well-stocked with food to keep them going as they travel across the country.

For the public to keep up with the adventure, the team has a Facebook page "Mississippi River Expedition" with frequent posts containing updates on the status of the canoe. It also includes a link to a GPS tracker, giving the exact location of the crew.

They were nearing Winona as of 4 p.m. May 16.