Mississipi Million

The Great River Rowed



Read John's regular updates from his epic journey along the Mississippi below:


Check out the latest photos from the challenge here.

Read Paddy's blog updated regularly during the challenge.

You can check the challenge's progress live right here too...

John’s Blog

Teetering on the edge….

Posted by on 20 October, 2014

St Francisville, Louisiana. 19 OctoberThe title of this blog is intentionally ambiguous in its meaning. I have checked and re-checked the calendar and whichever way I view it, we have only 6 days until we reach New Orleans and the end of our journey of 2,320 miles down this most majestic of rivers. But we still have 6 days to negotiate. A strange series of sensations and emotions are beginning to well up as I approach these last sections now that we are clearly in sight of the line. But we are also on the edge in other ways too.Both Paddy and...

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It was bound to happen sometime…….

Posted by on 18 October, 2014

Natchez, Mississippi. 17th October.Late last night, we were joined by Matt “fresh meat” Brittin, an old rowing mate of the highest pedigree, along with Marysh and Alison Chmiel, and their young son Stan. Marysh has been a long standing supporter of this project and we were all delighted to have him and Al with us, not least because they are both hard as nails rowers too! Marysh is also a maker of furniture that is of truly exquisite quality and even before he came out, he made for me and the project 90 presentation boxes from the...

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An injection of youth….

Posted by on 17 October, 2014

Vicksburg, Mississippi. 16th October.The vicissitudes of work – a combination of the understandable disquiet about Ebola, falling growth in the US economy and worries about the eurozone – meant that our stalwart supporter and great friend, Chris Gate, simply could not make it back to Louisiana. He has been utterly four square behind me and this project since inception and his contribution cannot be overstated, so we were saddened that he could not be with us for the last legs. However, our disappointment has been somewhat assuaged...

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Into Louisiana

Posted by on 15 October, 2014

Tallulah, Louisiana. 14th OctoberWe had a clue that the weather was going to be possibly uncooperative, when we started to see tornado warnings on several radio and TV stations. We started to take it seriously once we realised the impact of this on our already crowded schedule. Wide awake readers (or should I say, wide awake reader) will recall that we now have only one rest day remaining in the run in to the finish. Not only would this mean that we were forced to take our rest day during the storms, but it would also impact our two new...

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King Cotton

Posted by on 12 October, 2014

Greenville, Mississippi. Saturday 11th OctoberYou will, doubtless, recall the debates about exactly when we would reach the south? It was not food, or blues, or accent or culture, but rather a state of mind. Well, when you reach the delta in Mississippi, one thing becomes abundantly clear immediately – King Cotton rules the land.You come down the east bank of the river, through Missouri, and see rolling hills and yet more miles of corn and soy. You then descend onto a plain, flat landscape that stretches on and on with hardly a tree to...

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And then you get to Clarksdale…..

Posted by on 10 October, 2014

Clarksdale, Mississippi. 9th October We arrived at yet another nondescript exit ramp yesterday, thick with Mississippi river mud (the eponymous pie is a perfect replica in all but flavour) to find an excited Alex.  He was unusually ebullient as we hauled the boat from the water and loaded it onto the trailer. “You wait till you see this town” was his cry and we thought he had taken leave of his senses after nearly three months on the road. But how right he was.For those of you who do not know Clarksdale or are not dyed in the wool...

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What the Mississippi gives…..

Posted by on 8 October, 2014

Helena, Arkansas. 7th OctoberThanks goodness for friends. I mean true friends that don’t blink or demur when tasked with taking up more of the load. And there has been much, much more load to take….Early in our journey, although we were not truly cognisant of it at the time, we were incredibly lucky with the weather and the river. Sure, we had bad days – indeed some truly testing days. But we also had a lot of fine weather for at least the first six weeks and given what we now know, we got away with it, especially crossing...

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Long distance information

Posted by on 6 October, 2014

Give me Memphis Tennessee…….Well, the roller-coaster that is the Mississippi Million continues to roll along and on Friday we reached one of the iconic cities of the US and possibly anywhere. To say that Memphis has a style of its own is something of an English understatement, but more of that anon. First, I must tell you of the final leg to reach here.I was with the amazingly stoical Sarkis, without question a man to have alongside you in a trench. We had known that it was due to be a long day, but the recalculations now meant we...

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One man two guvnors

Posted by on 3 October, 2014

Blytheville, Arkansas. 2nd October 2014In fact, I rather feel like I have several guvnors just now. Naturally, the two key elements are the river and the weather, so let’s first have a little look at these two.Around two weeks ago, we had 5 inches of rain overnight. Apart from filling the top boat on the trailer, necessitating endless pumping out before we could move, the rain had a truly seismic impact on the river. Over the following 24 hours, it rose 7 feet. That’s right, 7 feet. This had two huge impacts. The first was to...

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Two quick things…

Posted by on 30 September, 2014

Tiptonville, Tennessee. 29th Sept.I have been reflecting on how I feel, with now 22 days rowing left in our march south and New Orleans.  A couple of factors are weighing in just now.The first is psychological. When I was (trying to) prepare for this marathon, I spent hours on the rowing ergometer. I have one in the bike park at my office, one in France at our house in Chamonix and whenever I went to the gym. Whilst the erg, as it is unaffectionately known, is a very effective physiological training tool, it is painful and also pretty boring....

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