MISSOURI — A man from Lebanon, Missouri is breaking records after he floated the Missouri River in a giant pumpkin.
Steve Kueny traveled 39 miles in a 1,200-pound gourd to break the previous record of 38 miles.
“It was just something that seemed doable,” Kueny said. “So I thought I’d give it a shot.”
Kueny says he had an idea the float was going to be successful within the first five minutes.
“Once we got underway, we got out of the city, passed the bridges and some of the more active barges,” Kueny said. “And once we got to that, I was like, ‘Oh, I thought this is actually doable.’”
This dream of being a world record holder began after seeing the record be broken just last year. Kueny says while he knew he wanted to do it, there weren’t very many good ways to prepare.
“I work out regularly, but you don’t really train for rowing in a pumpkin,” Kueny said. “So a lot of it is just deciding you’re going to do it and sticking with it as long as it takes.”
Kueny started growing pumpkins in 2020 after taking up gardening during the pandemic. The pumpkin he used for the float was one he grew himself.
“It was not comfortable at all,” Kueny said. “It was cold and slimy.”
He started the float at 7 a.m. at Point Park in Kansas City, Kansas and stayed on the river for 10 hours and 49 minutes.
“I was sitting on top of my knees with my legs crossed or underneath me for basically the entire time,” Kueny said. “That was the worst part, just on your knees all day. That got a little old.”
In case of an emergency, he was surrounded by kayakers from the Kansas City Paddle Sports Club.
“We had a good team in place to make sure that we were able to do something a little silly, but we were able to do it safely,” Kueny said.
As part of a tradition, Kueny named his pumpkin.
“This one I named Huckleberry just kind of in in the spirit of Huck Finn,” Kueny said.
Kueny tells OzarksFirst he feels good about breaking the world record.
“It was a great season and a personal best on my pumpkin,” Kueny said. “I did something I’ve never done, did something that’s never been done, if only by a mile, but I feel good about it.”