Chapter 1
“A Sacrifice That’s Going To Be Worth It”

World Record Ambition

Competitive kayaker Traci Martin is testing her limits again. In her mind’s eye, she already sees the finish line of her world record endurance attempt, shimmering some 8,600 miles in the distance. To reach it, she’ll circumnavigate four of the Great Lakes; paddle the Saint Lawrence Seaway before crossing the Bay of Fundy; propel herself up the Hudson River past Niagara Falls; then paddle the coast of Lake Erie.

Her confidence and focus have helped her navigate uncharted territory, including her biggest transition of all: discovering in 2010 at age 42 that she, is living with rheumatoid arthritis, a painful autoimmune disease that inflames the joints and can make everyday motions agonizing.

Life with RA has made her all the more determined to pursue her dreams, to have no regrets.

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Competitive Streak

Traci’s mindset and strength have made her a contender in the kayaking world. Despite her rheumatoid arthritis, she’s unafraid to push herself to the limit.


Chasing Tides

The unofficial world endurance record is held by Freya Hoffmeister, who paddled 8,570 miles in 2009 circumnavigating the continent of Australia. Although the feat is not officially recognized by the authorities at Guinness World Records, Traci considers it the standard she must surpass for her achievement to be accepted by the kayaking community.

Perhaps the most perilous segment of Traci’s voyage will take her across the Bay of Fundy between the Canadian provinces of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. Amidst the most extreme tides on earth, Traci will need to paddle 50 miles of open ocean in a single day to avoid being stranded in waist-deep mud miles from the bay’s shore.

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Ten Months

Traci will need to paddle 32.5 miles every day for nearly 10 months, from early spring through fall, to achieve her record setting goal.

Adventurous Roots

Wanderlust and adventure may run in Traci’s veins. She remembers being delighted in childhood by stories of her great-grandmother, a fabled member of the Cherokee nation. From a young age, Traci would play in the woods, feeling connected to a simpler time when the generations before her lived closer to the land.
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Surfacing Interests

Family vacations helped Traci find her home on the water. She fondly recalls childhood trips to Lake of the Ozarks in central Missouri.

RA Journey