Try carving this pumpkin - 1,086 pounds, more than big enough to hold a grown man in its hollowed-out shell.
That was Rick Swenson’s task before he paddled that great pumpkin 26 miles and for more than 13 hours on Minnesota’s Red River on Saturday, trying to break the Guinness World Record for the longest distance floated in a pumpkin.
“I’ll never get an Olympic medal,” the 35-year-old corn seed salesman told the West Fargo Pioneer. “I might as well try to get a Guinness record.”
Two family members and three buddies floated alongside in two boats in case anything went wrong for the Fergus Falls, Minnesota man.
According to the Twin Cities Pioneer Press, Swenson was about seven and a half miles into the trip when he got a text alerting him that someone had paddled a pumpkin 15 miles the week before to smash the 8-mile record.
“And that was completely demoralizing,” he told the Pioneer Press.
But he had planned all along to float the 26 miles from the boat ramp below Riverside Dam in Grand Forks, North Dakota, to Oslo, Minnesota.
He said he was grateful to have the company as the trip wound down.
“It was getting boring towards the end,” he told the Pioneer Press. “Especially when we got towards Oslo, it kind of slowed down and there was no wind.”
“I mean it was beautiful, but you knew you were getting towards the end and you didn’t want to stop and it was starting to get really boring.”
Swenson has raised and carved giant pumpkins for six years. He said he was inspired to tackle the float trip by friends who had pulled other pumpkin stunts, including one friend who sponsors an annual giant pumpkin drop on cars.
“I'm a little competitive,” Swenson told reporters.
Not everyone, noted the West Fargo Pioneer, can say their grew their own boat. Swenson turned a Dill's Atlantic Giant pumpkin upside down and carved out its flat bottom to make an opening big enough for three people to sit in.
He told the Pioneer that it handled like an inner tube in the water. “If you push too hard, you're going to swim in circles,” he said.
He completed his trip in 13 hours and 40 minutes, breaking the recently set record by more than 10 miles. He’s now waiting to hear whether Guinness - which gave him 36 pages of rules to follow - certifies his effort.
“I have no intentions of doing it again. Once is good enough,” he told the Duluth News Tribune.
His pumpkin boat will be displayed at the Chahinkapa Zoo in Wahpeton, North Dakota, through Halloween, after which it will make some animals a mighty feast.
Swenson told the weekly City Pages in Minneapolis that he had no idea people tried to get famous by sailing large vegetables.
“I think it’s because it’s new, and it’s still slightly attainable,” he said. “If you get somebody to come out of the woodwork and make it a 150-mile venture, that might change some minds.”
“I actually foresee it spiraling out of control real quick here. I’m just hoping to maintain (the record) this fall because somebody will smash it again next year.”