1 man swimming 1000 miles, one team paddling 1000 miles.

Diary Entry | Not Sue. But Sioux. Even though there was a Sue. A very lovely one.

image

image

image

By Em Bell

Our idyllic sandbar was a vision of rain, wind and cold on Friday morning. Not the best vibe for breakfast, camping and swimming but hey. We’re English. We can handle this. Dave and Ness hit the water, while the rest of us packed up. Ben Stiff, resident personal trainer, ploughed on with the ginger and blondies lunch and we followed behind. This was a big day. The biggest yet. 41 miles covered. We paddled for 9 hours straight. With no break except the occasional wee. We were going so fast we even caused a minor tornado. Well it wasn’t actually caused by us, but we saw it and it was like a scene from Twister on the water.  We pulled into Sioux City as the sun was going down, with rumbling tummies and sore hands. But no sign of Ness or Dave. Ben had found his way and set up camp, but the others were nowhere to be seen. Even camera crews were sitting there twiddling their thumbs. After a quick phone call we found out they were 3 miles away and going to have to stop there. But there was nowhere to stop. After the flood, the banks are filled with boulders and no place for a wee tent. So they had to continue. With a head torch on Ness. In the darkness. Towards the big city. And finally, as we perched on the bank, we saw them coming. After screaming, shouting and torch flashing, we managed to lure them into the banks where we ordered pizza (kindly picked up by an absolute dude called Rob with DZ), looked after them and settled him into the amazing cabins Scenic Campground had let us use for the night. We were helped by the incredible Sue, Gene. Carlene and everyone from Scenic campground.  And could not have been more grateful for three cabins filled with hammocks, bunk beds and all. Designed by the Iowa State University students. Thank you students. We slept perfectly after our biggest day yet.

Hello rest day. 41 miles earned us a Saturday of shopping, writing, sorting and sleeping. In our perfect cabins we stayed. Meeting people around the campsite. We had a delicious breakfast, thanks to Julie and High V. What stars. We were also swooped up by Julie for a shopping trip and she shared the delights of Sioux City. She is absolutely wonderful and I wanted to hug a lot. Constantly. I hope she didn’t find that weird. After a day of catching up, the amazing Pam and Carlene went and got us chicken, beans, wedges and Sprite for supper. Who does this. They do and we could not be more grateful. They were amazing and kind and I also wanted to hug them a lot. Constantly. And it was equally strange. After supper, we packed up and chatted to people in the campsite. One group of people had three cancer sufferers sitting right there. They also showed us round their RV. Put on ‘Blue’ swimming hats and posed in swimming positions with us. They have promised to get up to see us leave. What an amazing bunch of people. I would like to hang out with them a lot. Especially if we all had to wear swim caps. All the time.

Now, the river is set to get faster. We have stocked up and we are ready to go. With more people to thank. More people to keep in touch with. And more miles under our belt.

 To all the boobies out there.p-0 We are still copping a feel. And spreading the word.

— 7 months ago
Diary Entry | The Adventures Of A Troll

By Em Bell

image


Wow. We did it. 1000 miles plus a ten mile victory lap. We have carried the boobie love all the way from South Dakota to St Louis. And boy am I proud of the team and myself.

image

After leaving university, I went into headhunting and after two years of the city slicker life, I woke up on New Years Day morning and realised I wasn’t happy. I went into the office the next day and resigned. Two weeks later I was pursuing the world of tv presenting. Here came four years of absolutely cracking experiences and stories. Everything from representing the UK on a gameshow, being a stand in contestant for Ant and Dec, presenting a festival in Cape Town, organising Bat Mitzvahs, travelling the world to try and become the next Besr Grylls, working on a McFly documentary, becoming a wedding planner to landing my dream job at a magazine.

I slept on a mattress next to my parents bed. With a train covered sheet and duvet. And I was chasing my dreams. But something was still missing. I would say “I want to be a doctor, a war zone reporter or a North Pole/ space researcher.” But I didn’t have the skills for any of those and didn’t really know why I wanted those. Until I realised I still wanted something more. I wanted something that would take over your life, be tough, mean something and you would work your ass off because you were passionate.

Queue, Dave Corntwaite turning up at my office to load magazines for £50 for a piece in his next book. On this day he mentioned the blogger position on an upcoming expedition that was starting in three weeks - swim 1000. Now this opportunity ticked several boxes -

An adventure
A challenge
Away from a desk
In the wilderness
Blogging
Say yes more
Don’t wait for an illness or disaster to make you turn your life around. Do it now

I was in.

Obviously.

Look where I am now. On the plane home.

So this trip was not only an incredible adventure, challenge, writing experience. But it also gives you the chance to meet and bond with a like minded team who i will know forever. And obviously you have plenty of time to chat on these trips and my career was a topic I discussed. But it was a 15 minute conversation with Vanessa Knight that I will never forget.

After many career conversations with Ness where we would get each other excited about life? It was in 15 minutes that I realised what had happened over the past four years. Tv presenting. Writing. Travel.

I want to become a full time adventurer.

I can see the business cards now. Em Bell - Adventurer. Ok. Eager but the river gives you a lot of time to think.

Everything I love, am interested in, have worked on, comes together in the adventure world. All this could happen without the creative boundaries. This could be mine. In my own style. Embodying everything I had been working on but in a world of adventure. Fighting against breast cancer. And getting chicks on the map of adventure. This is it. The female version of Bear Grylls. You could say Bear Grylls with boobies. It’s taken four years. But if I were a cartoon character, there would have been a lightbulb above my head. Ting. The Missouri River took me on a cracking journey and showed me where to go next.


A life of adventure is just a life of roses and rainbows isn’t it? Emily Bell, get out of the clouds and get back to reality and live a normal life. The Missouri bubble isn’t real. I say no. Why shouldn’t you do something you love? What’s easy is following the mainstream, following the path you are expected to follow and doing what everyone else is doing. What’s hard is turning that down, running away from routine and stability and instead opting for a nomadic lifestyle of adventure, travel, creativity, sights you will never see from your desk, a Monday to Friday filled with hours you are living and a list of friends that you meet along the way. How can you say no to that. And yes, there will be hardships. Physically in the challenges. Mentally as you spend time away from home without stability in that, friends or a job. Difficulty in finding sponsorship and constantly fundraising. Living on minimum money. But why spend your money on a house filled with stuff that might make you miserable. I’m not saying I don’t understand. I’m just saying I need more than that. At the moment. As soon as I’m off round the world with a tiny rucksack, living in a tent, using human power for transport, I’m at my most happy. So why not do this every day. And when the time comes to settle, I might have discovered a whole different path through this.

As Corn would say, it’s too easy to tap your alarm clock. But it’s also too hard to turn down a life of adventure and a life of meeting people like Corn, Ness, Stiffy, Dizzy, Hancock, Morts, Lou and all the other people I’ve mentioned along the way. It’s never been easy for me to tap my alarm, wait for the train, wish away the day, plan for the weekends and get stuck in a world of mediocrity. I never want to settle and whatever people say, I have found my future. And I have never felt so sure and ready to conquer the world of adventure, fight against breast cancer and share my stories with whoever will listen.

Just before I sign off for the last time, I just wanted to give the team a little bit of river love. And then I’m done. I will leave you alone. Until next time…

image

Dave Cornthwaite (Corn, Ginge, D*ckhead)
Even though you are ginger, I will be forever indebted to you for coming to load magazines at my office and persuading me to come on the trip. You crack me up, have a readable face, never say no and can do anything in the entire world.

image

Vanessa Knight (Nessy Monster, Douche bag, Ten Tonne Tessy)
So many adventures to come for us. We will join the chicks on the circuit. You are just as disgusting as me, have very long legs, you can eat like a bloke, you are terrifying competitive and are a damn fine person.

image

Ben Stiff (Stiffy, D*ckhead, Brother)
I am so glad you were on the trip until the end. You are a giant teddy bear, who looks cracking with hair, has the oddest mind, has a brain linked to mine and knows something about everything.

image

David Zaple (Dizzy Rascal, Medic, Scout Boy)
My wingman. You now have long hair, you like lists, have a talent for accents, find it hard to grow a beard, hate dramas, have a pocket for everything and save lives for a living.

imageAnnabel Hancock (Hancock, Annie Pants, Love)
You are a little chick with some big ideas. You can’t eat without spilling on your clothes, take longer than everyone, wear your heart on your sleeve, have an addictive laugh, pulled off the river chic and find it hard to tell your rights and lefts.

image

Louisa Currie (Currie Pants, Slug, Kn*bhead)
Your visit was brief but unforgotten. You have an amazing news voice, a cracking northern accent, an impressive dessert stomach, a false sense of confidence in beating me in an eating competition and some incredible slug moves.

image

Sarah Mortiboys (Morts, D*ckhead, Boob Queen)
The first to leave. The last to be forgotten. You are one mouthy, boozy, hardcore chick who made ME laugh until I weed myself several times. And I cannot wait to see you again.

The closest you will get to understanding this trip will be through the videos, photos and stories for the team. But nothing can explain the intensity, the bond, the beauty and the utter bubble of an adventure that was out of this world and changed my life.

image

image

Website: www.swim1000.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/expedition1000

Twitter: @DaveCorn and @Swim1000

— 1 year ago
The final day | Just A Quick Dip Then?

By Em Bell

The final day. This was it. 1000 miles already done. We just had to make it to the Gateway Arch of St Louis for 10am and then the ginger would not have to get into a freezing cold wetsuit for a long time. All the alarms went off early and we were out of bed pretty quickly. The post expedition depression was already dawning on us and so we all had watery eyes. I blamed hay fever.

We were going to be hardcore and wear the little shorts, tops and bare feet from the whole journey but then Mike’s kit was so cosy and we just couldn’t turn it down. So we suited up and headed to the cars. Out jumped Jess Giard from Chamberlain and Rod Wellington, another uber adventurer who had paddled almost 2000 miles of the Missouri and had just reached our starting point. They had road tripped 12 hours through the night to join us for the last day and we couldn’t have been more excited. What a treat. Yes. This was the final day and we had amazing people there for us.

image

We drove in Mike’s car with minimal gear and after packing up the boards, staring in awe at the Chain of Rocks and beating each other up in the sand, we were ready. For the last time. Dale was alongside us in his canoe. And we just headed for the big arch. Of course they got me about four times with made up stories along the way. One being that the story of Rapunzel was actually based on something that happened on the water and the castle she was locked in was this little tower where we put in. Annoyingly I believed it because it was a perfect castle for the story. Grrrrr. Gullible Gimli done again.

We kept going. And the arch got bigger. We were filming. Tweeting. Facebooking. And keeping everyone posted. The coastguard came out. Barge dudes were screaming “are you kidding me?!” The sun was shining. And finally we started to pull in.

image

Miles, Miguel, Jess, Rod, Dale, Gary, Marsha, Patrick Albert (a blogger who had been following us), some other people and press were all running down and clapping. Lots of friendly faces and a huge arch behind them. Shining in the sun. We had done it. We pulled in. Cameras in our faces. We hugged. Held back tears. And then stood together for the interviews before racing each other up the stairs to the base of the arch. We had done it. Together. The ginger had swum 1000 miles and we had completed the Swim 1000 expedition. I’m not one for getting deep but the its choking me up writing about it now. Boy does it feel good/ sad/ overwhelming/ reflective. This experience has changed my life and I loved every second of it (more of that in the post to follow).

image

image

image

After hugs and all, we piled back to Mikes pad to sort the canoe, send all the kit back to Memphis with Dale, shower and get ready for the evening entertainment. While we emptied the entire expedition onto the grass, Gary and Marsha brought us mini burgers, chips and onion rings. As if they hadn’t done enough?! And we realised that an expedition that takes so much organising and mental and physical strength to do, can be packed up in a couple of hours.

Showered and shiny, we put ourselves in the hands of Miles who drove us all the way to Columbia for his very own college football game. 70,000 people were piled into the stadium of the University of Columbia. Mizzou vs Vandy. What an atmosphere.

image

We were in a special section and we screamed our heads off. We made lots of friends, felt like we were in ‘One Tree Hill’, danced when the full band marched around, laughed as the helmet car whizzed around, tried to high five the tiger mascot, checked out the cheerleaders and just loved it. Miles is an absolute gem. He treated us to the whole evening and really is an absolute dude.

image

Now that’s a proper Yankee end to the expedition. All of us passed out within five seconds on the drive home and went straight to bed (party animals) with so much love for everyone we met along the way.


This Sunday was different from the ones before, with no alarm, no boards to pack and no swimmer to tend too. Instead we packed up, said goodbyes, missed the river and ate a delicious breakfast whipped up by Muddy Mike. I even peed outside as the bathroom freaked me out. Skyped my parents and headed to the airport. I write this from the plane. With a blanket over my lap as I flick through the photos of the past 60 days. I’ve already sobbed my way through two films that weren’t even sad. Now its back to reality. But only for a little bit. And to be honest my brain is so strange, it’s never really understood reality. So I’m going to be on the river and on a sandbar in my head. Which is exactly where I want to stay. For a while anyway.

Website: www.swim1000.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/expedition1000

Twitter: @DaveCorn and @Swim1000

— 1 year ago
The final days | Hey Man? Whoops it’s Hermann!

By Em Bell

I guess one problem with getting stuck into the routine of city life is you don’t get to constantly meet new people from around the world. Well on a casual Tuesday we met more people in a day than James Bond sleeps with in one movie. We woke with smoke coming out of our mouths it was so cold. And a sneaky body snoozing on the beach next to us. The expected Jeff had paddled upstream in the middle of the night to reach us and made it around 2am. How many guys do you meet that would do that?!

We set out early with Jody on a board and Jeff in his kayak. Dave’s body has had enough of swimming. Now he is regularly vomiting while swimming and the cold water is scarily unbearable for him. His whole body is white. And that’s not down to his ginger tone. He’s dealing with cold weather, water and a stomach that can’t hack to do another stroke. But it will. After some logistical change overs between Jody and Jeff, we whipped out the Primus and cooked on the move as we charged towards Hermann.

image

image

As we neared our destination, a speed boat with the amazing Gary Leabman from the infamous Spirit Hill B and B, Susan Haley who heads up the Girls With Tops Down breast cancer charity and Jeff Noedel from Country Live News, came to end the day with us.

image

Behind us the sun was setting with a distinctive line at the end of the clouds. This was lit up orange and reflected in the water. I think it was one of my best sunsets I’ve ever seen. And even though I’m incredibly enthusiastic I think it wins. Hands down.

image

What a welcome we got in Hermann. Lots of people. And after photos, chats, goodbyes to the cracking Jody and hello hugs with everyone else, we were driven to Gary’s home. I got to ride with Susan in a pink convertible with the Girls With Tops Down boat attached behind. The remnants of the charity parade that had happened the weekend before.

Gary and his wife Marsha welcomed us into their home. After nearly 60 days on the river, this was our first move back into civilisation. We were each given our own, quirkily designed en suite bedrooms. After we washed, we were fed amazing nibbles and wine, before an absolutely delicious dinner with a cracking bunch including Sue’s husband, Jeff, and Mick (who made me laugh hysterically). We actually sat round a table and felt like we were back in real life. What a night of beautiful food, wine, company and curtains open for the morning in preparation for the view.

After a slightly broken (as emails buzz in my brain when we are back in reality?) but amazingly comfortable sleep, we woke up to bubbling oatmeal and pumpkin cupcakes, all with the Missouri river in the background.


image


Tummies filled, hugs had, we were back on the water with an extra team mate… Gary came out in his canoe. It’s such a treat to have extra people join the team. Especially when they are people like Gary that have taken us under their wing. We covered some good miles, even with a brief stop to say goodbye to Gary. And we kept going, into the dark. Now, every day we see spectacular sandbars. Beautiful, long, wide, stretching sandbars. And every time we are ready to camp, they disappear. Every time. And this day was so exception. Finally in the shadows of the dark, we found a spot, and luckily it wasn’t a hallucination it was indeed a sandbar. Well a bar. As the sand was actually sand coloured rocks. But it was perfect, even though we couldn’t see it, and we took up our regular spot with a campfire and tents.

It’s very odd to think that next Wednesday, I will be back in the office, running around for press week at the magazine. Very odd. But this Wednesday I was snuggled up on a sandbar getting bullied by Ben and Dave, munching on supper on a rock covered sandbar and sleeping on a giant boobie. And there is nowhere I would rather be.

Website: www.swim1000.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/expedition1000

Twitter: @DaveCorn and @Swim1000

— 1 year ago
The final days | The King Of The Muddy

By Em Bell

It’s the final countdown. We’re set to reach the Gateway Arch on Saturday 6th October. And it’s the Thursday before. In London time, when you’re wishing away the days, that’s basically the weekend. So we needed to nail quite a few miles to make sure we made it. Up at 5am, in the pitch black we packed up from the anonymous sand-coloured-rock-bar, which we never saw in the light, and cracked on. A ginger in the water. In the utterly freezing water. And we were off.

First stop was Washington. Miguel, the superb film and photography king, who had started with us all the way back in Chamberlain, was coming to capture the end of the trip. Hopefully with all of us in a bit more control of our boards, with a bit of a tan and the ginge moving through the water swimmingly (Sorry. I couldn’t help myself).

image

He was hitting the water with the infamous Big Muddy Mike. A legend on the river. The kind of dude you would want to stumble across if you were in trouble. He knows his stuff. And he’s an absolute hero on top of that with a passion for food as well as adventure. I think I’m in love?!

image

While we waited, a chick came running down from the local radio to interview us and with no sign of the others, Dave and I carried on. Finally, we saw them approaching in the distance. I say finally, because I was bored of Corn (Joking… but feel like I need to bully him as much as I can before I leave). So we pulled over at the next boat ramp. Mike lived up to his name by whipping out a knife and chopping up fresh avocados right then and there and making fresh guacamole. Miguel and Big Muddy joining us marked the end of the journey and it was fast approaching. The sun was out. It was day 56 and we had 42 miles to do. What a treat to have Mike and his canoe of goodies. So on day 56 instead of dreaming about proper food, we were made fresh bagels with cheese, turkey and salad with a side of tortilla chips. And humous and bagels for tea. All with cold juice. How luxurious.

The sun started to go. We were determined to reach St Charles to make sure we were on track. But the amazing food/ 56 days of swimming meant Dave kept throwing up as he was swimming and intense cramps started to become a permanent fixture. But he’s one hardcore adventurer.

image

Finally, as we passed a bridge close to our end spot, we saw a guy screaming at us. Being practically blind, I thought it was a crazy person but it was Miles from the Isle of Capri hotel in Boonville. He was the dude that thought we were rock stars and once he heard about the swim, said he would help and walked off. Miles offering to help was an understatement. He screamed at us to stop at the Ameristar under the next bridge. And after we shot past him screaming there, we pulled in at the Lewis and Clark museum and unloaded.

image

And guess who we found there… Dale Sanders. Oh yes. One of the top notch people in the world was back. Daves old friend who had joined us in Chamberlain wasn’t going to miss the end. What a hero.

image


Miles, Dale and Mike helped us out, packed us up and carted us to the Ameristar hotel on the river in St Charles. It’s utterly enormous. Think Vegas. Think of a land for giants. With so many bright lights. Ceilings for twenty people high. Miles treated us to two rooms with giant beds, beautiful bathrooms and three televisions for one room. Just in case you don’t want to miss anything when you’re in the hot tub! If anything was going to strengthen the ginger and the team for their final big day on the water, it was going to be Dale, Muddy, Miles and a giant bed. And we had all of the above.

Website: www.swim1000.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/expedition1000

Twitter: @DaveCorn and @Swim1000

— 1 year ago
The final days | The Last Supper

By Em Bell

What a pity we barely had time to do anything other than sleep in the Ameristar in St Charles. But boy did we sleep. Deeply and beautifully. Until our alarm reminded us that we had to get up (oh and it was Ben’s birthday). Sleeping in a bed makes you forget about the elements. And the Missouri River, our home for the past 56 days wasn’t going to let us leave quietly. Queue the worst weather we had on the whole trip.

image

image

Miles was waiting at the hotel like a star. Grant, a photographer who dresses like a Londoner who we met in Coopers landing jumped on a board in jeans just as we were leaving and Miguel was in the canoe with Ben. Not the best day for guests?! We had to get on the water as quickly as possible as Fox TV were sending a helicopter out to film us from above. So despite the lighting and thunder crashing around us we decided that if a helicopter was coming out, then we would be fine?! Well as the storm got closer, we realised there was no way the helicopter was coming. Which was annoying as it would have really shown people what we were doing. The beautiful views and happy photos cover the Facebook pages, but it’s the weather, the vomit and all that makes it an expedition not a holiday and the helicopter would have shown this.

image

Until Friday, day 57 of the trip, the penultimate day, I didn’t realise it was possible to vomit in your mouth and temporarily black out from the cold. Well that’s exactly what happened to me. And I wasn’t even in the water. At this point, we postponed Bens birthday until Saturday.

We got to the stage, after attempting to light a few fires, where we went to knock on some houses and ask for temporary shelter. But we had such time constraints and no one was home. This meant we had no choice but to carry on. Water was pouring off the bridges. We tried to eat calorie filled energy bars to keep us going (but could barely open the packet with our fingers). We had to make the 3.7 mile marker and despite the tiny pair of shorts, vest and waterproof jacket that wasn’t waterproof we ploughed on. And we made it. We all went ahead of Ness and Dave. And paddled in silence (not including chattering teeth). And as we approached the marker, we spotted Dales car. Boy I have never been so happy to see someone. He helped us load everything up to the van. Then Muddy Mile appeared. Told us to stop talking, put on proper clothes and he was taking over. I wanted to hug them at that point.

image

image

By the time Ness and Dave came we had just finished loading and got them up and into the van. The cold had made us all delirious and we just worked to get everything packed up and us back to Mikes canoe house.

Wow was it nice to get there. Four walls. Yummy food. Hot drinks. Big fleeces. An orange and green hat that Mike gave me. A hat from Mike found on the Big Muddy (which I’ve already decided will make every journey with me).

image

After a break which seemed to go way too quickly, Mike had us dressed up in wetsuits, boots and all and we were back on the river with the sun going down. We had to reach the confluence where the Mississippi and the Missouri meet. And Dave knew this. He was sheet white and teeth were chattering and he just kept kicking. We were just shouting “you’re so close” etc and just kept going.

At the moment we passed the Mississippi and the Missouri confluence, we all jumped up and down. This was huge. And the following bridge marked the 1000 mile mark. There would be a victory lap to the arch but Dave had swum 1000 miles. And seeing the Mississippi flowing in was a big moment. With all the barges and clear water. It meets the big muddy. And the year before, Dave had seen it when he paddled the Mississippi. This is where the idea for the swim began. And now he had swum the 1000 miles.

image

This was it. We had reached the chain of rocks. In the pitch black. Piled the delirious ginger into the van and took him back to Mikes for supper and cupcakes for Bens birthday, bed and a mental preparation for the final 9 miles. He had already done something that everyone thought was impossible. And all for boobies.

image

— 1 year ago
Follow The Pied Piper. But He Is Ginger?!

By Em Bell

We were starting to feel quite at home at the casino. Wandering round bare foot. Getting into a routine. And during an endurance adventure, that’s a dangerous place to be as your feet soften and your brain turns to mush. Well for me it does. But we got a lot of stuff done. Blogging. Editing. Videos. Making contacts. Eating more than than the American Football team players sitting next to us at breakfast. Very impressive I tell you. We achieved a lot. And the final one I was extremely proud of.

A day behind, on Sunday 30th September, we set out again. Lugging our bags down the muddy, rock covered access point, we helped Ness pack up. Ness unfortunately was now unwell and was just going to have to suck it up. And boy she did a good job. Urgent loo stop aren’t the easiest thing when you’re in a team, ploughing down the river to make St. Louis. And as the support team, we can’t hold back the ginger. Miss Vanessa Knight kept going. Unwashed and wrapped up, she literally went in and out of sanity on the board. And came out the other side. What a hero.

What a day to get back on the river. Even though it was a Sunday, there were no boats and everything was quiet. This stretch of river was beautiful. Incredible bluffs. Encroaching cliffs. Idyllic sandbars. The trees are turning red as fall kicks in around us. And a cycle route showed up alongside us. At the end of the day, a quiet adventure dude called Dan White showed up in his canoe/ sail boat/ speed boat invention and paddled with us into Coopers Landing. We love when people join. Just love it.

image

Now Coopers Landing. Wow. For the first time, we were welcomed with a full service boat ramp directly focused on people using the river. You can go through huge cities and not find a spot to pull your boat out of the water. But Coopers Landing is on the water. It has its own boat ramp, shop, campsite, toilets, stage for music, petrol and all. It is full serviced but with a hippie vibe. Campfires going. Fellow adventure nuts crowded round. Country music being performed. I could have moved there in a second. Especially when we discovered there was a Thai trailer with food known all around.

The laid back Mike and adorable Keira run the place. And we met naked Dave and his wife Janet, who is set to become the first woman to paddle the Missouri. We ate (and yes it was out of this world) with them and heard their stories. Not only did Janet have amazing teeth but she was exactly my type of lady. What a woman. I really hope I will see her again. At some point. We pretty much thought the same about everything. And we were doing something about it. Love that.

On top of that, Jodi who came to the talk at the casino showed up hoping to see us and with her camping kit in the car from the weekend, decided to come with us and paddle for a couple of days. There are some spectacular adventure chicks around. And we are gathering them into our little bubble.

image

Just another Monday. Notttttt. A very cold morning anyway. And with Ness still not well we had a few extra minutes in bed. But once we were up, there was already a campfire lit. And we met river rat, Jeff and photographer Grant. Oh and also Jodi with her bags and British accent all ready. With waves goodbye and lots of hugs, we headed off with a new team member nicknamed Teamie. Original.

Tuesday is normally a bit of an odd day for me in real life but here it was crisp and cold but beautiful and sunny. We crossed through Jefferson City, the state capital of Missouri with its big powerful buildings. We saw a huge barge dredging the channel. We cooked lunch in the Mad River Canoe on the Primus as we paddled. We comforted the ginger while he vomited his way through the day. We think his body has had enough of the water and is just refusing to enjoy it now. But we are so close.

And at the end of the day we found a perfect sandbar. With a perfect view. Ben made an incredible fire. Dave made a full on washing line. And we ate supper around it. This was all very relaxing until Teamie joined in the practical jokes using her missing finger (which I hadn’t noticed in the day). Picture me searching the river in the dark for her finger. Actually you don’t have to because there will be another episode about that. Including the part in which Jody explains that she lost her finger to a Hook Snake which puts its tail in its mouth and only goes downhill. I can’t even defend myself here.

image

So we went back to fire, ate some chocolate and carried on our evening. Our new friend Jeff said he was going to come and camp with us but with still no sign we went to bed and hoped he was ok?!

image
We had reached the 135 mile marker. Now we are almost in double figures. What a moment. We are nearly there. And hopefully people will donate to CoppaFeel when they see Dave has actually swum 1000 miles down the Missouri River. Because we are an embarrassing amount away from our target, and we need to get closer. Maybe finishing it will make a difference and then we will all continue to spread the word about checking your boobs. It could save your life.

Follow along as the expedition nears its conclusion in St Louis, Missouri. We expect to get there on October 5th.

Website: www.swim1000.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/expedition1000

Twitter: @DaveCorn and @Swim1000

— 1 year ago
Diary Entry | Fuelling a 1000 mile expedition

 

image

By Ben Stiff | Trainer & nutritionist

The team is sat on a beautiful sandbar, 60 feet or so away from the river under the twisted branches of a tree, deformed by the flood. A small boat goes past traveling upstream but is too far to disturb our swimmers nap.

One member of the team asks whether it’s a powerboat, despite the very obvious outboard, the wake of the engine, and the direction of its passing. I make a joke of saying that it was in fact powered by hope, much to the amusement of the rest of the team.

This had me thinking of what powers a team whilst on an expedition, and as a personal trainer I’m a realist, so I’m not going to warble on about it being hope, dreams or getting home and starting a stamp collection. I’m going to tell you what’s been going into the stomachs that this army has been marching on.

For our swimmer, he’s front crawling, back-stroking, and breast-stroking his way through around 6000 calories per day. This is not only through the physical exertion of swimming 10+ hours a day, but the cold of the river, and the jobs that need to be done after the swimming like erecting our Marmot’s or getting a small fire going for warmth.

The breakdown of these calories is 40% carbohydrates, 45% fat and 15% protein - so of a typical day, Dave will munch his way through 600 grams of carbs, 225 grams of protein and 300 grams of fat. This was difficult from day one, as Dave has struggled to eat big portions of food because of the intense and relentless swimming, so short of having him on an I.V of gravy, getting the calories into him has been stressed as a priority. Sometimes forcefully. As a result Dave has been on a timer to eat a little amount of calorie dense food every 45 minutes.

In terms of what meals we have been eating, we make 3 large meals per day and take a few mouthfuls every so often. The reason for this is 2 fold. Firstly, we don’t have a lot of time to stop to make meals, as Dave doesn’t stop till he’s done for the day. A 6 minute stop on the banks requires 20+ minutes of hard paddling to catch up (so we now cook onboard the canoe while still paddling). Secondly, we want to avoid the team having peaks and troughs in their energy levels. 

Breakfast consists of a hearty potion of oats, with whey protein powder, nuts, chocolate spread and peanut butter for calories, and sprinkled with flax seed, raisins and banana chips. We sometimes add tinned fruit and chocolate chips if were feeling posh.

Lunch or dinner is based on either pasta, rice or potatoes in the form of gnocchi. We add a source of protein, which is usually tinned tuna or chicken, and always tastes like 30 year old furniture offcuts. To make it more edible we add more tinned ingredients in the form of vegetables like corn, tomatoes, beans and pulses and finish it off with a sauce like pesto or tomato. If were feeling very flush and creative we add fresh onions, garlic, and dried herbs. We fully expect to be opening a restaurant called ‘The Hungry River Rat’ in St. Louis.

As simple as it sounds, the food keeps us smiling, and when we reach places that have restaurants we don’t hold back on re filling ourselves with pizza and burgers. We appear to eat like vultures, but I can tell you for sure that if you go 8 weeks living on a river eating out of tins, being presented with a plate of doughy, cheesy, pepperoni loveliness is like being reunited with a relative.

We snack on a massive variety of things. We were lucky enough to be given a heap of snack bars from Nakd, which are perfect pick-me-ups. If we are really suffering we have protein bars containing 530 calories each, which we have affectionately named fatboys. Fatboys and chocolate milk serve as emergency sources when real food runs out.. or if we are too exhausted.. or if it’s hammering with rain. You get the picture.

If we are feeling really down, or want to celebrate something we treat ourselves to hot chocolate or rice pudding by the fire. It takes our minds off the mosquito bites.

— 1 year ago
Life’s A Gamble. But We’re Winning!

 

By Em Bell

Bring on Boonville. We were up and out by 6.45. With Ben realising that the slice of pizza he ate in the middle of night had been covered in ants. Nice. We were all excited to get to Boonville. Its’ casino. And face-to-face fundraising. We even made breakfast on the go to get there.

image



Now, Thursday this week was a tough day for me. Firstly the team told me to paddle upstream to collect a rhinosaurus buffalo skull. Yes I know. I fell for it. It was a piece of wood. Following this came several hours of humiliation for me. Where the ginger pushed me in, again and again. Then blamed me for losing a paddle. Which was hidden. And then left me behind, soaking wet with clothes floating around. I wanted to take that “lost paddle” and shove it where the sun don’t shine. The gingers ear to ear grin made it worse!

As I caught up to the others, they broke the news that we had read the map wrong and actually had 18 miles until Boonville. But were approaching a city called Atlantis. An underwater city. Now I’m not going to ruin the next episode of Gullible Gimli (which is the series that Corn has made to share my most humiliatingly gullible moments with the world. So check out Expedition 1000 if you want to find out more?!) but I’d say my response included claiming there was a Greek story about a city underwater of the same name. And a resort in Dubai. I then got told I had been played and somehow they managed to trick me again. Wow.

Well on a positive note, Boonville was close and we just had to look out for some orange cones in between two bridges. There we were welcomed by an amazing team from the Isle of Capri casino including Andy, Heather and Barron. We managed to unload against rocks with the help of everyone. Tied the boards to trees. And they took our bags up and over a railway track. We were covered in mud. Totally covered. And we were given beautiful rooms. Double beds. Andy even brought extra shampoo for my dreaded hair. And we made ourselves at home with serious love for everyone who helped us.

image



After showers, laundry and general admin, we went and got some nachos and chips (They were actual crisps. But we are so american these days) and settled into the balcony above the enormous gaming floor.

Dave did a talk. Rocked it. And we chatted away to three chicks called Jody, Mel and Megan. Exactly the kind of people you want to meet. We then hit the gambling floor. Had a couple of drinks. Sat with Ben while he gambled a wee bit. Watched him win $90. And then had to be taken away as realised I have an addictive personality. Luckily I managed to stay in my room and slept like a baby.



It’s not every day you wake up on a Friday in a casino hotel in Boonville, Missouri. Well we did. And I stretched out in my massive bed. My alarm had gone off to remind me that I had to make the all you can eat breakfast. So of course I ate all I could eat. Cereal, fruit, yoghurt, apple juice, bagels, eggs, bacon, ketchup, jam, pancakes, French toast and maple syrup. Yup. I know. It was disgusting. But I was slightly proud of myself. Even if my mum wants to cry when reading this. Love you mum.

image

Andy helped us with everything. We did a shop, inventory of the canoe, laundry, filled up water bottles, dried out tents and felt ready to go. But unfortunately the ginger was feeling a tad under the weather. Probably had something to do with 50 days of river inside him?!

So we got everything done, reconnected with the world and even managed to fit in a radio interview with Zac from The University of Columbia for KBIA.

image

My day ended in a big double bed. With a chicken wrap the size of my head. Snuggled in bed with the team watching random shows on ice diving for gold and blogging. This is the life. We wait to see how the ginger feels before hitting the river and nailing the rest of this epic journey. Isle of Capri we love you. Missouri we love you. And boobies we always love you.

image

— 1 year ago
You Know This Isn’t The Missouri Em?

 

By Em Bell

Just as things were starting to warm up, we woke up to thunder, lighting and rain. But after a brief lie in we were out on the water again. Dave went first. Ben chased after him. And then the chicks followed. With the weather being as temperamental as the lake section of the Missouri, we went from bikinis to waterproofs. But we were all smiles as our toes weren’t falling off. We decided to make lunch on the move. With eagles overhead and stunning views, Ness set up the Primus and started whipping up a storm. How cocky were we. The floating restaurant. Until the gas ran out. So we cooked the rest of the gnocchi (yes gnocchi. We are seriously posh on the river these days) in the jet boil. Still. Lunch was made on the go. And we had no catching up to do.

image


Well unless you count having to catch up after minding my own business and popping for a bathroom break on a paddle board. Next thing I know I’m batting away the swimmer with a paddle and then attacking the canoe. Unfortunately I was so proud of myself for reaching our Mad River baby, after chasing it round in circles, that I didn’t notice Ben had removed all valuables and next thing I knew, he had launched himself out of the boat and slam dunked me into the river. Then I had to gather my belongings and catch up. Doh.

image

image



The end of the day was nearing and so Ben paddled ahead to check out the town of Glasgow. We wanted to try and continue in the dark but needed some food and gas to take us there. So once we arrived and were welcomed by some slightly over refreshed fishermen, we decided to set up camp as Bens board was parked but he was nowhere to be seen. We even had hot showers and jumped straight in. Once it was dark, a Benjamin shaped shadow appeared heading to the tents. Powering actually. That’s because he had walked barefoot into town a mile away and then back with a box of pizza, drinks and gas. With blistered feet we hugged our personal trainer. What a dude. And settled on a picnic table all smelling like roses. Well less like sweat at least. Which is nice for anyone that hugs us.

image



The next day would be a big day. Boonville. Fundraising. And all things boob shaped.

— 1 year ago