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Canoeist paddles, totes across U.S. in long oardeal

Sat., Sept. 25, 2010

PORTLAND, Maine – An extreme paddler who launched a cross-country canoe trip in Portland, Ore., traveled 3,500 miles through rivers, lakes and other waterways before arriving Friday in Portland, Maine.

Alexander Martin said he also carried his 30-pound Kevlar canoe about 800 miles over land to cover parts of the country that aren’t connected by water. The 24-year-old from Kensington, Conn., completed the trip in three segments adding up to six months and said he encountered only four other paddlers during his coast-to-coast journey because he was paddling in the offseason.

“The Boundary Waters canoe area in northern Minnesota is the most popular canoeing place on Earth, and I paddled it for 16 days and didn’t see another person,” he said.

Martin and a friend already hold the record for completing the 740-mile Northern Forest Canoe Trail from Old Forge, N.Y., to Fort Kent, Maine, having done it in 32 days.

Attempting to paddle a canoe across the country is uncommon. Martin said he’s aware of only one or two others who have had similar success in doing so. But there are no comprehensive records for cross-country paddles, said Chris Stec of the American Canoe Association in Fredericksburg, Va.

Martin, a Bates College graduate, said he had intended to complete the entire trip in a six-month stretch but ended up doing it in segments. He ran out of money at one point and had to return to work at the National Outdoor Leadership School before completing the final leg.

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