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Mississippi River: Mendota Heights man begins paddle board trip

Alex Linnell paddled into Lake Bemidji about 4 p.m. Friday followed by his father Stan. The 21-year-old Mendota Heights, Minn., residents hopes to be the first person ever to stand-up paddle the 2,350 miles of the Mississippi River in a fundraising effort for the American Red Cross. Pioneer Photo/Monte Draper

After three days on the Mississippi, 21-year-old Alex Linnell of Mendota Heights, Minn., entered Lake Bemidji Friday afternoon. He hopes to be the first person to ever stand-up paddle the length of the river.

He left the Headwaters on Wednesday morning accompanied by his father Stan in a kayak.

Linnell said he was not hampered by the many deltas and marshlands.

"It was a challenge around Rice Lake, but I could see my line where dad could not," he said. "It was all the snags that slowed us down."

"The toughest part so far was the two days of headwinds; the 25 mph winds yesterday made it a long day," said Linnell.

Linnell's father will accompany him the first week of his leg then meet up with him on weekends as long as he's in Minnesota.

Linnell is starting with an 11-foot-6-inch paddle board. Once he hits the Twin Cities, he will switch to a 14-foot distance board.

His trek is to raise money for the American Red Cross and the flood victims along the route showing support for the Mississippi Project. Traveling on a stand-up paddle board is one way he can bring awareness to the new sport.

Linnell's best estimate is 60-90 days to travel the 2,350-plus miles. Linnell admits a slower start, but that just gives his sore muscles more time to recouperate.